Sitting on the porch alone, listening to them fixing supper, he felt again . . . the sense of loss and the aloneness, the utter defenselessness that was each man's lot, sealed up in his bee cell from all the others in the world. But the smelling of boiling vegetables and pork reached him from the inside, the aloneness left him for a while. The warm moist smell promised other people lived and were preparing supper. He listened to the pouring and the thunder rumblings that sounded hollow like they were in a rainbarrel, shared the excitement and the coziness of the buzzing insects that had sought refuge on the porch, and now and then he slapped detachedly at the mosquitoes, making a sharp crack in the pouring buzzing silence. The porch sheltered him from all but the splashes of the drops that hit the floor and their spray touched him with a pleasant chill. And he was secure, because somewhere out beyond the wall of water humanity still existed, and was preparing supper. –James Jones, From Here to Eternity
I sit on the porch in between stirring the pans of granola, timer at my side. The rain comes lightly at first on the metal roof, then steadily. I zip a vest over my sweatshirt and watch the wind ruffle the surface of the lake. It is good to be out on the porch again, even if it’s cool. This vest used to be my aunt’s. My cousin stretched out her hand last fall with the heathery turquoise in it and asked if I might want to have it. It’s an old lady vest, soft and long with a zipper that goes up snug to your chin. It’s been hanging on one of the top spindles of the chair by the kitchen door ever since then, perfect for these in-between seasons, spring and fall. I’m always surprised to remember that I am an old lady. So, in my cozy old lady vest, feet on the rail, I sit in the beautiful solitude as Anna Lou did on this old porch.
She was the caretaker of this place in her generation. It has been a year since she left us, but her touch is still felt everywhere. She was the heart of Stonecroft . . . continuing the traditions, creating her own. She gardened and canned and baked and painted and decorated for every holiday, as if all of it was important. And it was. Every year in late May or early June, when the wild Bridal Wreath Spiraea bloomed at the porch steps, she would tell how her Daddy had “brought it from the woods and replanted it here for Mama because she’d loved its dainty blossoms so.” I retell the same story. Family lore. Memory keepers keep sharing. This wild beauty by the steps is just one of the things Gideon and Edna and Aunt Anna Lou planted that still thrives four generations later. It all counts.
I often look back . . . when energy wanes and rhythms seem lost. . . to remind myself of this, that it all matters. All these little daily ministrations. I wonder how many of us have felt “the sense of loss and the aloneness . . . sealed up in our bee cell from all the others in the world” these last two years. I thought we were fine while in the middle of them, had a sense of buoyancy that it would soon be over, returning to normal. But I feel, now, the effect of those lost rhythms and rituals and relationships. I notice that I’ve traded reaching out with gentle touch, for fearful watchfulness. Is he well? Am I? My long walks, for too much sitting. Joining the congregation, for church in pajamas. For after all, when it was first okay to return it was suggested that we older folks stay home, so they could gather without worrying about us. It was subtler than that, but we got the message. Blame, for taking responsibility. A lie whispers, “Surely, the world is too dangerous a place. You’re nearly done, why bother. You’re not safe. You don’t matter.” I know better.
As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, While they continually say to me, “Where is your God?” When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go with the multitude . . . to the house of God, With the voice of joy and praise, With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast. Psalm 42:1-4 NKJ “ . . . I was always at the head of the worshipping crowd . . . leading them all, eager to arrive and worship . . . shouting praises and thanksgiving . . .” –MSG
I miss the open faces and the instruments rising, the surge of voices joining mine. I miss the pull of a passage as I take quick notes during the message, signposts for me to come back to in the coming week. I miss coffee afterwards in the little Styrofoam cup, Bible tucked under my elbow, donut hole bite nestled in a napkin in the other hand. Connection. It is part of the fabric of our lives. It is time to mend the tear.
It’s warm inside when I take the granola out of the oven. There’s a fire in the stove for the first time in a few days. His gentle touch. I hang my vest on the chair, light the candle on the windowsill, and gather the vegetables for a sir-fry. My guy is counting on me. Counting on the smell of supper cooking to affirm that all is well. And yes, that matters.
9 thoughts on “Porch sitting in the rain”
Absolutely beautiful…trying to stop the tearing in my eyes while reading the last paragraph. ❤
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Aww thank you! So sweet.
So beautifully written. I thought we were okay, too, except we’re worn—thin and fragile in some places and thick and calloused with wear in others. It’s a new revelation and I feel powerless to do much to change it. Beauty—outdoors and in words like these—will surely help. And time to keep doing the little things of life because they matter, as you said. What a good reminder. There’s been a loss of hope, even among the saints, it seems, and it may well be in continuing to be faithful in these small things that hope is buoyed once again.
Thanks for these thoughtful, beautiful words.
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Thank you Natalie for these sweet and lovely words. We remind each other.
I meant to tell you how beautifully expressed these words from you are. You should write more!
Love reading your stories Becky.. your thoughts and reflections….🤍 blessings..ruthie
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Blessings to you too Ruthie. Thank you!
Such beautifully written thoughts and words! I can almost smell the warm granola and see the candle glowing from the window! So relatable when you said, “I’m always surprised to remember that I am an old lady.” 😊 Please keep posting your beautiful writings!
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Thank you Linda for these lovely words. I’m touched!