An Old Ragged House (Joe West)

On a hill over there stands an old ragged house,
I was told to always beware;
An evil old widow lurks in the dark,
And by no means to ever go near.

The kids were all scared, and rumours ran wild,
Even old folks told of their fright:
Of the things that they saw, and old Tom McGraw,
How he vanished one dark stormy night.

So I never went near to that house,
But I often passed by that old gate;
I wondered if she watched me go by,
And I chilled at seeing her face.

I finally left home and was caught in a war,
And was transferred to a far distant land;
There were terrible sights and terrible nights,
And no one to lend me a hand.

I thought back in time to that old rusty gate,
And the house that was just down the road;
Where in earlier days I was warned not to play,
And the widow should now be quite old.

The war finally did pass, I was home-bound at last,
I wondered if things there had changed;
Would the kids that I knew have all gone away,
And if people would still be same.

It was a real stormy night
as I turned down that road,
And walked towards my little hometown;
The roads were so rough -
they hadn't changed much,
No traffic was there to be found.

I stumbled and fell head-first in the mud,
As thunder roared from the sky;
I laid there in pain and I thought to myself,
Had I come this far just to die?

I could see a dim light in the dark of the night,
And it seemed to be guiding me on;
As I would get close it seemed to move on ahead,
Am I dreaming or do I hear a song?

The light was so bright as I entered the door,
But I could see her soft tender eyes;
She didn't say much just offered a smile,
And pointed to the chair by the fire.

She brought me some tea and a cookie or two,
And some water to clean my bruised head;
As she entered again she had a book in her hand,
And she placed it by the chair where I sat.

I woke early that morn, it was right after dawn,
And the fire was still giving heat;
The kind lady wasn't there who gave me a chair,
But I was silent not to wake her in sleep.

I picked up the book and dusted it off,
No pages had been turned in some time;
Some had been stained with teardrops I know,
From the heart of a woman so kind.

It told of her love, and she thanked God above,
For the wonderful gift that He gave;
Although he had gone on she was not there alone,
And she would always look after his grave.

It told of a man the town called a drunk,
The worst one they ever saw;
How they teased and they laughed
and broke his dear heart,
And broke the spirit of old Tom McGraw.

He died at her place of a heart broke in two,
And he made her promise that day:
She would bury him there by the one that she loved,
And to never let them take him away.

I realized the book was a diary of a life,
Filled with sorrow and pain;
Sadness lived there, and feelings ran deep,
My heart was filling with shame.

She loved things of God, and the people seemed kind,
The reason she'd made this her home;
This was a mistake but it was too late,
She couldn't afford to move on.

Gossip is cheap, and loose tongues destroy,
She asked God to please help her through;
She prayed for the town - the ones that were mean,
That they would know Jesus, too.

With tears in my eyes I sat the book down,
The truth began to unfold;
I walked to the window and as I looked out,
A chill ran deep in my soul.

I knew I was there at the widow's old house,
I heard that same song again;
My God, what is wrong, what has this town done,
I found myself crying in shame.

I opened the door to the walkway outside,
As it turned to a garden of love,
With roses in bloom and violets there too,
And on the fence a tiny white dove.

It was calling to me as it flew just ahead,
It led me to the graves down the lane;
To the place where she died
by her husband she lied,
I felt so alone and ashamed.

As the white dove watched, I dug her a grave,
And placed her and her bible inside;
She was finally at rest with the one that she loved,
And the snow-white dove seemed to cry.

I found some old boards and fashioned a cross,
And placed it at the head of the grave;
As I knelt on the ground I opened my heart,
And prayed Jesus my soul to be saved.

A lesson I learned - don't believe anything,
Unless the Lord is there at your side;
The spirit will help us in all that we do,
Jesus sent him to be our own guide.

I walked down the lane and opened the gate,
That I so often had hurried on by;
Life is so fragile like the little white dove,
And without Jesus we surely would die.

So, I'll cherish that old ragged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.

####.... Joe West ©2009. Performance rights administered by SOCAN. All rights reserved ....####

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