In his introduction to Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis describes his book as a “hall” that readers enter and then begin to open doors–it’s all a metaphor for finding the true church–an actual place of worship. But I love the picture this sentence creates: “But it is in the rooms, not in the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals.” I love the idea of a room with a fire and chairs and a meal and Jesus. Of course, being an Anglophile, I picture the front room of a cottage with diamond-paned windows and worn, pale floral-covered arm chairs and a faded Aubusson rug (I didn’t ever know what an “Aubusson rug” was when I was devouring Maeve Binchy and Rosamund Pilcher’s warm and fuzzy novels. Oh, looked it up—it’s French).
In that warm, friendly room where the fire is real so it crackles and spits, I would serve fragrant coffee and just made scones. My friend, Isabel—I don’t have a friend named Isabel, but I’ve always wanted one—serves her famous pumpkin dip with pretzels and cinnamon-sugar pita squares. My hubby, Steve, sits on his manly worn, leather chair while the two other men sit—with a pillow between them—on the squashy leather sofa. My lovely friends (one of them is Isabel) sit in the faded arm chairs, while I sit by Steve’s feet on a giant floor pillow. My black cock-a-poo, Moby, snuggles with me (I don’t have a cock-a-poo named Moby, either). We sip and munch and talk about our grown kids and our grandkids, while the men talk about college football and the trouble with leaves.
Someone leads in prayer and out come the Bibles. It’s Isabel’s husband’s turn to take us through a chapter of 2nd Corinthians. It’s so still and quiet. Our voices speak God-words and we laugh together softly. After almost three hours, we pray and Steve and I walk everyone to the door. The porch light reflects off gold and red leaves lining the stone path to the driveway or still clinging to their parent trees. We all wave goodbye and plan to meet at Isabel’s house next week. Inside my cottage, Steve is cleaning things up while a finish another cup of coffee by the fire, Moby firmly on my lap. God’s presence still lingers.
. . . Back to reality. Right now I can linger over coffee. I can spend hours on the Bible and other books (currently I’m reading some short stories by Alice Munro. I figure I should keep up with Nobel Prize winners even though I don’t teach literature any more). I can make great spaghetti and file my fingernails. And I can work on my master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis on Adolescent Literacy. I have the time. I have a wonderful husband named Steve who takes care of me because now I can’t walk very well.
I’m having surgery on my neck due to ruptured disks (due to arthritis and other stuff floating around my body thanks to DNA). It’s scheduled for the 25th of this month. My lower back has been deteriorating for over a year, and now it’s in full rebellion. Making great spaghetti last night had me in tears while I was draining the pasta. The pain is really, really bad.
And then my feet swelled up and my toes feel broken so I cry a bit if I step on them the wrong way. I had to quit teaching this year, and I had to quit tutoring last week. It’s been a Job (as in Job of the Bible) kind of year.
That’s why I like my dream. The cottage and fire. The friends who also have grown children. The kind of friends who make pumpkin dip and pray for me and I pray for them because I’m tired of thinking about me. The squashy arm chairs and a cuddly dog sounds wonderful, too.
Then it hit me this morning: why don’t I ask Jesus for them? (The friends, not the cottage, etc.—but I do want Moby!) So I did ask Jesus.
And while I’m waiting for Isabel and Moby, I found a great recipe for pumpkin dip. I think I’ll try it; I know Steve will like it!
Here’s the link to the pumpkin dip! http://www.shugarysweets.com/2013/09/pumpkin-pie-dip