In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? (John 14:2 NRSV)
If heaven gives us options, I would choose a large porch with rockers, gliders, and wicker furniture with comfy cushions for my dwelling place! A beautiful day with plenty of good books on hand. Sweet tea served with real sugar and no guilt. I would spend the day meeting the people I always wanted to meet, but most of all reuniting with those dear ones who have gone before me. To me, that would be perfect.
Mom and I sat on her porch a while ago and talked about a variety of topics, but soon began reminiscing about the fun times our family had enjoyed on the porch over the years. As children, my siblings and I found the porch to be a perfect place for playing school, hosting puppet shows, coloring or painting, reading, and holding overnight sleep outs with our neighborhood friends.
Mom and Dad made lots of memories out there, too, playing cards and laughing into the night with friends and family. Our own family enjoyed many breakfasts, lunches and dinners on the picnic table, and when the grandchildren came along, that same table provided a place for modeling clay, puzzles and board games.
Jim and I added a screened porch to our home last year, and it has swiftly become our favorite living space. We share our coffee and prayer time with the birds and bunnies each summer morning. On cooler evenings, we sit and talk over our days, read, listen to audio books, or visit with our dear neighbors. Slowing my pace helps draw me near to God, as I journal and reflect at the table. Our porch reminds me of my good childhood memories, brings me closer to nature, and connects my spirit with my mom’s, too.
I know the troubles of the world are complex and confusing, but sometimes I wonder if most of the world’s troubles could be solved by “spending more time on the porch.” Imagine world leaders debating issues in tee shirts, jeans and flip flops over a glass of sweet tea. Would the conversation transform into a back porch discussion, with honest searching and mutual compromise? Would the process of negotiation benefit from a casual atmosphere of friendship and camaraderie? Would another viewpoint be more readily heard over board games or cards? Would the hotly contested issues be tempered by cool evening breezes? Would leaders begin to see one another as neighbors by eliminating the conference table and sitting together on a porch swing?
For that matter, how would our lives change if we spent more time on the porch? Would we become better people if we took more time to spend with one another, to feed our souls, to listen to God in nature, to be good neighbors, or to simply BE? One has to wonder how near to heaven our time on the porch might be.
Thank you, Jesus, for promising us that we have a place, with you, in heaven one day. In the meantime, I think I will make a glass of tea, grab my book, and head out to the porch.
(After I had written this blog, Jim told me of the country song, “If the World Had a Front Porch” by Tracy Lawrence. Check it out sometime!)