My Dad’s mom, Granny, lived for years in an old house in Bowie, Texas. It was on a tiny farm where they raised cows and chickens and vegetables by the bushels. That was our vacation every summer for as long as I can remember. We’d go down there for two weeks and become the farm kids we as city kids had dreamed of being. Climbing trees, hiding in the root cellar, running around the pastures, helping collect eggs.
Our version of paradise.
But what I remember most about Granny’s old house was the huge wrap-around porch. A place of calm and quiet conversation, rowdy games of Old Maid and big glasses of sweet tea. A place where we’d leap off the railing to see if we could make it over the bushes. A place where Granny’d serve us her homemade peach cobbler.
A place where the neighbors would sit and visit.
The porch wrapped around the house like a warm embrace. People flowed from the rooms onto the porch like a cup running over. Everything about the porch was inviting and safe.
After dinner each evening, we’d all go out to sit on the porch and talk. Sometimes we’d sing or tell jokes. Neighbors would stroll by. Some would wave. Some would lean against the rails for a little chit chat. Some would sit and enjoy a glass of Granny’s tea.
No one would walk by without some acknowledgement. It was a place to be known.
And most everyone had a porch.
We’ve lost the culture of the porch. Many homes don’t have them. Those that do seem to have them more as architectural niceties. Folks don’t have the time or the inclination to just sit and relax. Many, like me, might find it hard to sit without doing something constructive.
So when did spending time with family, friends and neighbors in such a genial way fall out of the category of constructive? I’m not sure.
The beauty of porch time is that it takes me away from the nagging of cell phones and the incessant pull of the internet. It focuses me on who I’m with. Our “porch” is our little back patio. John and I sit back there, sharing our hearts, talking over our days. Dreaming. I sit in those ratty chairs and feel the decompression begin.
I think Jesus would have been a porch person. He’d visit His friends, Martha and Mary, and Martha would work hard to serve those who were there to hear Jesus teach. But Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him. Which really ticked Martha off. She wanted Jesus to tell Mary to get herself into the kitchen to help provide hospitality.
“‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but only ONE thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'” Luke 10:41-42
I get so bent out of shape by all I have to do. I’m worried about so many things. But if I can sit and be with the One who loves me best, I have the energy and courage to love well the others I have in my life.
I can imagine Jesus saying, “Come on, Dayle. Sit with Me awhile. Let go of your worries, fears, concerns. Share them with Me. It’s why I’m here.”
So I’ll take the time to sit with Him. To chat. To be.
Granny’d be pleased.
Picture of the house with a porch courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org.