Friday, May 26, 2006
We drove by Mrs. Johnson's today. The little white house on the knoll, where on a clear day you could see the Boston skyline, and where countless Easter Sunrise services were held was no more. It was gone .. like it had never been.
A lump rose in my throat and tears came to my eyes. How could it all be gone? The big empty hole that had been the foundation of her "little two by four", as she called it, seemed to glare at me. The spot where once her wonderful old barn had stood, showed not even a left behind board or a splinter. Even the location of her garage was cleared, showing no signs of what had been. Gone! All of it gone!
Sitting in the car staring at the emptiness, I thought, how like this world. Everything here is temporary and passing. Only people and relationships have eternity in them. Everything else is "stuff" demanding "stuff" that requires our time and energy, even holds us hostage, causing us to ask, "Who owns whom?" all stuff that passes away and is forgotten. No wonder the Lord tells us not to lay up treasures on earth, but to have our focus on laying up treasures in Heaven where decay and bulldozers cannot touch.
Mrs. Johnson knew that and she practiced it. She invested herself in people, and whatever she had was meant for sharing, including her faith in Jesus. She was a "giver" with a capital G. Anna P. can never be gone to those who knew her nor can her home and yard and barn and trees. They are all indelibly etched in our hearts and memories. How many of our kids had their first jobs with Mrs. Johnson! She hired them to do various works around her property, and she expected good work, often showing them herself, how to do things as they should be done.
Her home exuded the warmth and friendliness the character, of this woman we loved, whose heart reached out in so many caring ways. Newcomers, long timers, missionaries, young, old, singles, couples, families .. everyone was invited to Mrs. Johnson's home. Sometimes the invite was for breakfast when she would serve a fresh fruit cup along with pancakes flipped right at the table, crisp bacon and hot coffee from her favored old silver dripolater. How many steaming cups were served from that coffee pot! Or the invitation was to enjoy her special homemade pizza. No other pizza could match Mrs. J's. At other times there would be fresh strawberry shortcake, blueberry, peach or apple pie. How many times folks were requested to stop by so she could gift them with fruit she had picked herself .. peaches, apples, strawberries, blueberries. Her sun porch was filled with her labors of love that she delighted in sharing.
Mrs. Johnson's dining room was such a special place. Her lace tablecloth ... and all the little wind-up whatevers that she loved. She received many from friends when they discovered how much fun she had with them. I can hear her laughing over the silliness. Her corner dish closet with the glass front, showed the assortment of lovely bone china cups she loved to use with guests. "You pick the one you want," she'd say, and picking was hard as they were all so pretty.
The ugliness of that vacant yard couldn't erase the memories of what had been. I could still smell the coffee, hear the banter and the laughter. I could see Mrs. Johnson as she stood at the front door greeting the Christmas carolers from church; and looking real hard I could see her glorious staircase at Christmas, each step filled with wondrous gift baskets she'd made up to give away. These baskets were a delight as they held tissue-wrapped jars of preserves and fudge and other delicacies from her kitchen. What a scene that was, and how she enjoyed making and giving those baskets.
The little white house on the knoll could never be called a palace, or an estate; it was far from elegant but it was a sanctuary where the Lord dwelt. A home where He loved to be. He was welcomed there and His Spirit filled those humble rooms. The warmth, the laughter, the hospitality, the goodness, kindness, joy, love and peace can never be bulldozed away. Things change .. surface things; but lasting things are forever. Mrs. Johnson went "home" to the Lord almost a year ago, but she and her "little two by four" live on in our hearts and memories. From that little white house on the knoll, treasures were laid up in Heaven.
© 2006 The Carlisle Mosquito