I live in the western half of Loudoun County, Virginia. The eastern half is home to Dulles Airport and a host of thriving companies, many of which consult to the United States government and other businesses on technology and security. The homes in the eastern half are almost all recent, suburban style and expensive.
Although the county overall is one of the wealthiest in the nation, the western half is eerie in its diversity, and its extremes.While the area around Middleburg has long served as farmland for the wealthy (John and Jackie Kennedy’s horse farm, for example), most of western Loudoun was populated by struggling farmers and the small villages that supported them until the population sprawled westward in the last part of the 20th Century.
But a funny thing happened here. Families living in homes built by their ancestors in previous centuries liked it just fine where they were and stayed, living simple lives in place. So just a mile or two separates 6,000-square-foot homes built in the 1990s from 900-square-foot houses built long before the Civil War.
And speaking of the Civil War, members of the Society of Friends (Quakers) settled in western Loudoun County as early as the 1730s. Their farms and homes became stops on the Underground Railroad before and during the Civil War. The home I have lived in for the last 15 years was built on one of those farms, and the Goose Creek Friends Meeting is a mile and a half away, in Lincoln. I believe that Quaker history contributes to why so many families stayed here despite rising costs and the wealth around them.
A 2011 survey showed that, despite the wealth, 10.4% of the households in Loudoun County had income below $50,000 a year, 4.5% below $30,000, and 1.6%, or 1,683 households, below $10,000.
Asbury Lloyd, 86, and his wife, Sarah, are somewhere on the lower end in household income, and they lived in Lincoln — until their home was destroyed by fire last week. The costs of Sarah’s Alzheimer’s made homeowner’s insurance impossible for Asbury, so the Lincoln community is doing the modern equivalent of a barn raising for the couple. Whatever your spiritual practice, please include Asbury, Sarah and the great-granddaughter they have been raising in your thoughts, prayers, meditations, and contribute, if you can, to the Crowdrise campaign begun by their neighbors.
One of their closest neighbors is my good friend the singer-songwriter Andrew McKnight, so I will devote the rest of this post to his words and one of my favorites among his songs.
My elderly neighbors lost their house in a fire last week. Here’s a “how” to help them, but there is a good “why” too beyond the obvious.
We moved into our old house in December 2009, just in time for the snowiest winter I’ve seen in Virginia. With no real insulation and single pane windows, our heating bill was absolutely astronomical – like everyone else in the area.
Next door to us is Asbury’s woodlot, and all winter long he loaded his truck with firewood and delivered it, and other people came and took loads. Later on he told me that he didn’t worry about getting paid for it because a lot of people were struggling, and they’d make good on it. All spring and summer, wood kept mysteriously turning up on his woodlot for this elderly Korean War veteran to sell.
It has been known in our home ever since as Asbury’s “Magic Woodlot”, where there always seems to be wood for those who need. Even now with his house destroyed – the oldest in our village I believe, and literally built during John Adams administration – I’ve still seen this 86-year old man out there a couple of times working and delivering wood.
Now this gentle and generous soul needs our help. Due to the cost of Sarah’s Alzheimer’s care, they had no insurance. Donations to help raze their ruined house and get them permanently housed are a huge help. You can use this Crowdrise link or send a check to our Lincoln Community League, Lincoln VA 20160 (memo for the Lloyds Recovery Fund). Our community has also been collecting clothes for them and their great-granddaughter whom they are raising and who is one of Madeleine’s friends and schoolmates.
If you are moved to help, know that you are doing a good thing to help good people, and that an entire community is grateful that you did. If you are moved to share it, thank you. On this Valentine’s weekend, it is gratifying to know how much love – and good – there is in this world.
May we all be well and happy.
— Mel Pine (Fearless Lotus)
Copyright 2016 © Mel Harkrader Pine