Rocking Chairs

Drive in circles. Round and round. Airport’s long-term parking lot finally found. Park the car. Write down the parking space number so that I will remember where my car is upon my trip back. Hop on the shuttle bus to the terminal. Hop off the shuttle bus. Weave my way through the long lines. Check in. Check bag. Check. It’s done.

Now take off shoes, take out laptop, turn on cell phone, place in bins. Go through airport security. Put shoes back on. Double check that all my belongings are out of the bins and are once again in my possession. Find some coffee. Rush off to gate.

Almost there…almost there.

Pick up pace. Time is ticking. Mind is racing. Nothing noteworthy to share. Just racing with mindless clutter. Pace picks up, time ticks on, mind continues racing…faster, faster.

Almost there…yes, almost there.

Slam on brakes. Screeching halt. What is this? images

Rocking chairs. The kind you would find on an old farmhouse porch; not in an airport terminal. But there they are. Rocking chairs lined up in a row begging for busy travelers to stop and rest. There they are. Lined up in a row—empty.

Rocking chairs. The kind that makes me remember a simpler way of life that a family of faith in a little white church invited me to be part of years ago.

The kind I remember sitting in while sipping a root beer float well-renowned in the village and beyond, lovingly made by the elderly hands of a farmer’s wife/potter/artist/one amazing woman.

The kind in which I ate melting ice cream over a just-out-of-the-oven berry cobbler.

The kind in which I heard stories of the years when crops were good and the years they were not so good.

The kind in which a long-retired farmer and I would simply sit and listen to the rustling of cornstalks in the hot summer wind.

The kind that invited confession as painful secrets were shared. The kind that granted assurance of pardon as old misunderstandings were rocked away.

The kind I would sit in every night on my very own country porch listening to peepers and watching fireflies light up the sky. The kind I would sit in crying my tears to God. The kind I would sit in singing my praises to God. The kind I would sit in wondering how it was that God led me to this way of life—to my heart’s desire.

Rocking chairs in an airport. Empty.

They’re preaching an important message, but the message is falling on the deaf ears of travelers only concerned with getting to their next “almost there.” But no one seems to stop long enough to look around and ask, “Where exactly is the ‘there’ I’m going to?”

I hear the message, though. I hear it loud and clearly.

Time IS ticking. Slow your pace and ease your mind.

The rocking chair beckons. I sit and I rock. The movement is soothing. My rushed breathing slows. I close my eyes.

Peace that has been missing like a suitcase stuck in some proverbial airport baggage purgatory, reclaims its owner. Peace reclaims me.

Back and forth I rock.

All of a sudden I am sipping that famous root beer float. I taste the berry cobbler once again. I know exactly where those berries were hand-picked. I was there. I have the berry stained shirt still. I hear now the rustling of the cornstalks drowning out the airport noise around me. I see the weathered face of that dear long-retired farmer. I notice his cataract-clouded eyes gazing longingly for glimpses of days gone by. I join him in that search.

I search. I rock.

I rock. I search.

The rocking chair’s sermon is being preached.

Time IS ticking. Slow your pace and ease your mind. Almost there. Yes, almost to the ‘there’ I want to be.

It’s the place where my shattered heart was lovingly pieced together by a precious gift called God’s grace. It’s the place where my steps began to move in sync with that of the Holy Spirit. It’s the place where divine fellowship was shared in the guise of a root beer float and berry cobbler. It’s the place where a rocking chair on a country porch waits for me to come home to. For me to sit and pray awhile.

Day 4—The Index Card

A Little White Church Advent

Come on an Advent journey and walk the rural roads and snow covered paths with Donna Frischknecht as she shares stories of God’s promises being fulfilled in the most amazing ways. These stories of “Emmanuel”—God with us—were gathered during her time serving as minister in a historic white clapboard church in upstate New York, right on the border of Vermont, from 2007-2013.

December 4

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit. Matthew 25:35-37

On my desk sits an index card with the initial “R” written on it in blue marker. I have thrown this index card into the garbage at least three times so far and, so far, I have reached three times into the waste paper basket to retrieve it. I am struggling with this index card with the initial “R” on it. I don’t want to see it for I don’t like how it makes me feel for it reminds of something that I don’t want reminding of. And yet I can’t seem to free myself of it and just throw it out. How can an innocent white index card with “R” written on it cause such turmoil in my heart?

It was at the youth group breakfast at the little white church, where every Wednesday morning teens would gather before school in what was known as Mackenzie Chapel—a chapel/fellowship hall built in faith during the depression years, reminding the congregation that with God all things are indeed possible—that they were invited to write an initial of someone they knew who needed a friend to stand up for them, a confidant to confide in, a brother or sister in Christ to rely on, a fellow human to let them know they are loved and not journey alone in this world.

They were invited to write the initial of someone in which they can show the love of Christ to this Christmas.

As the teens scribbled the initials of those they had in mind, I sat there staring off into space not wanting to write out the initial I had in my heart for I didn’t want it to materialize onto the index card for me to see. The war waged inside of me. I fought back the tears that began to sneak up behind my eyes, forcing them away with every stinging blink I took. “I am not going to cry,” I kept saying. No, I am not going to cry. Hesitantly my hand began to write “R.”

The youth leaders finished up their lesson, closing prayers were said and the kids were invited to hang on to their cards as a reminder of the task they have before them as they went about their day: be Christ to the one in need, be a friend to the one who is friendless, be a light of hope to the one walking in darkness.

I threw “R” into my bag and went on with my day. When I got home and emptied out the contents within, out came “R.” And that is when the waste paper basket game of throwing out and retrieving began.  Unknown

I have decided to stop the game. I have decided to keep the index card. I have decided to let it remind me of what I really rather not remember. That is, there is someone in my life who needs my love. There is someone in my life who walks in darkness and needs the light of Christ. There is someone very close to me who needs to know he is worthy; he is special; he is cared about greatly. There is someone who needs more of my time that I have claimed I do not have.

There is someone I can be Christ to this Christmas. “R” is my older brother with special needs. “R” is my brother who has given me the greatest gift ever without even knowing he gave it. He gave me eyes to see the least in this world. Now I just need to find the strength and guidance to give the gift of my time to him.

What initial do you need to write down on an index card this Christmas?