Colorful shirts, full hearts, a refurbished home and grateful homeowner – these were the hallmarks of the Last Nail Ceremony held February 21 on Logsboro Road in Tarboro.
The Last Nail Ceremony, conducted by World Renew volunteers, is a poignant one. The last nail driven to restore the home is one that affixes a handmade woven straw wreath to a living room wall. The straw wreath is a constant reminder to the family of Christ’s love for and through God’s people. Every part of the wall hanging has meaning.
The Eternal God is represented by the outer circle within which are angels’ wings going in every direction, ready to do God’s will. Just inside the large circle is a star representing Jesus, the light of the world. This sin-ruined world is the small circle that is rescued by Jesus’ love, which is shown by the heart and cross.
World Renew volunteers opened the ceremony with scripture, and continued with the song This is the Day the Lord Has Made and a responsive litany. After pounding the last nail over the mantle, they hung the straw wreath and presented Nancy, the homeowner, with a Bible and handmade quilt. Nancy’s own pastor offered the closing prayer.
The history of Nancy’s double-wide trailer was a familiar one. Located outside of Tarboro and not too far from the Tar River, the home had been flooded in 1999 during Hurricane Floyd, repaired, and sat – vulnerable again – for the onslaught of Hurricane Matthew, October 8, 2016.
When the waters finally receded, the home was once again uninhabitable and in need of a complete tear-out – flooring, sheetrock, insulation – everything down to the studs. All but the ceiling had to be gutted and replaced, including appliances and bathroom fixtures.
Nancy has been living, free of charge, in a house owned by the pastor of her church since Matthew hit. A deeply spiritual person, she handled that time away from her home with grace and hope in the Lord. She knew her home was God’s house, she reflected, and if it was God’s will for it to be repaired, she and her family could come back to it later. And later had finally arrived.
February 21 was Nancy’s first night back in her completely refurbished home. Her son had come for the ceremony with a truck full of furniture. That furniture will come in handy; only a rocking chair graced the home because everything else had been destroyed in the flood.
The love and hospitality that Nancy has shown others through the years had been reflected back to her in the selfless work of volunteers. She was thankful to be home, and grateful for all the work that had been done and for all the people who had done that work.
About 40 of those people were at the ceremony, many dressed in shirts that define them as part of a team. Folks in blue shirts were with Islamic Relief USA; those in dark green shirts were part of World Renew (the relief and development organization of the Christian Reformed Church); and those in light green shirts were with the NCCUMC Disaster Response & Recovery. Presbyterians and Catholics volunteer groups were also on hand.
Nancy’s home refurbishment was indeed the gift of many faith groups working together to help one family in need. Like the straw wreath hanging above the mantle, the refurbished house, itself, stands as a physical symbol of God’s people finding joy and purpose putting their hands together to accomplish God’s work.
And that truly is The Day the Lord Has Made.