Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Virtual Front Porch

     The first front porch I remember is the one that defined my grandfather's house in Eclectic, Alabama. It was shaded by a huge magnolia tree that kept us relatively cool on those hundred plus degree, humid summer days. That was long before air conditioning, of course. I was only 5 when we moved to live there with Paw Paw, my father's father, after my grandmother died. The house had a back porch, too, but that was for working. The front porch was for sitting and sharing stories, and visiting with a neighbor who dropped by once in awhile.
     When I was eight, Dad went to Auburn University to complete his college education. Mother and I saw him only on holidays and semester breaks for two years. During that time, we moved to south Alabama to help take care of my mother's father, Papa, after mother's mother died. Papa had a large front porch also, but instead of a magnolia tree we now had an equally large and shady pecan tree. A couple of years after we moved there, a tornado touched down in our front yard. When it rose, it took the roof of the house with it and destroyed the porch, the entire house, and uprooted the pecan tree. Papa rebuilt on the same spot and included a new front porch. I remember Papa telling stories while mother shelled peas to get ready for supper, and I played with my little dog, Midget.
     And then we moved. Dad rejoined us in a little cotton mill town on the banks of the Tallapoosa River where he taught school and where I spent my high school years. There was no front porch. In fact, I didn't have a decent front porch until after I had completed a long career in ministry, retired, and moved to Colorado. Our house in Colorado sat at 7000' and faced the Rocky Mountains. A road ran from the house up to the base of Mt. Herman, and a hiking trail ran from there to the top of the 9600' peak. After we extended the front porch so we could sit on it, we would often watch storm clouds form over the mountains before they filled with water and swept down the slope, through the valley and up to us.
     We spent a lot of time on that porch, reading, talking with one another, waving at passersby and visiting with neighbors who stopped to chat.
     We live today in the flat part of Nebraska in Lincoln, over five hundred miles from the Rocky Mountains. We don't often see storms before they're almost upon us. We do have a front porch, somewhat smaller than the one in Colorado. There are passersby and neighbors we visit with. There is no large tree to shade us but it is a nice place to sit, read, think, and share stories.
     And now I have my virtual front porch. I took the picture at the top of this blog one morning when the moon was setting over Pikes Peak and the sun was giving the Garden of the Gods its first bath of the day. In all honesty, I couldn't see all that from my porch; I had to drive a few miles to the ridge that overlooked the Garden. But it is my inspiration as I record my musings from my virtual front porch.
     I want to add my voice to those who challenge folks to help shape the world to fit God's dream. I will pass on some of their ideas, add some of my own, and share stories worth living by. But I will try to stay away from the trivial. My message to the storyteller or preacher is, “Don't waste my time! Make me laugh, help me channel my anger, give me a voice to oppose the mean-spirited and little-minded, challenge my prejudice, show me how to live in community, but don't waste my time!” I'll do my best to take my own advice.

     I hope you will find something here that you can use as you spend time on your own front porch.

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