Ramblings from the Cove...
By Lars Gren
There is a certain suspense in opening up mail, not of sheer dread as when one sees the IRS listed as the sender, which immediately brings the fear of having made mistakes on the yearly “hello” letter that is mailed to them in the spring of each year. That April 15, letter is the one that I always trust will be accepted without any “thank you” response or further correspondence. For I aim at accuracy yet the nagging thought comes that one day some sinister looking man in black will ring the doorbell and with a glint in his eye, a sardonic smile, announce the date of an audit to which I am to appear at such and such place resulting in my getting to know Mr. Madoff, as my new neighbor.
The suspense that I have is wondering as I open the letter, “Will it be one of encouragement or the tears of a broken heart with the ending of a hoped for relationship which blossomed on a short term mission trip.” Then there are the unanswerable ones by any mortal such as, “Why has God not let the man know, since He told me, that I am to be his intended bride?” It is not put exactly that way but the intent is there and who can adequately answer that? Most though are the “normal whys” that sadly occur and for which Elisabeth has, from past years, tried to answer such as children having gone awry, the lack of communications in families, unexpected departures of spouses after a few decades of happy bliss and the list could go on but now and then a letter will arrive mentioning a type of suffering that I venture few of those reading this have experienced. I asked permission, which was granted, to add it to these rambling notes of mine believing that we can all learn something of the response to suffering while keeping our joy. The only portions deleted have been some personal notes to Elisabeth.
My Dear Elisabeth,
Thank you for using your knowledge of the Bible to help cultivate my heart’s garden. I am now very happily married with three delightful children. We have recently come through 10 months of homelessness. If any woman was ever created to find great peace, joy, and fulfillment in being a homemaker, I was. Amidst constant retraining of my children living in others’ spaces, having a new baby, constantly looking for the extra mile to complete so as to keep everyone at peace, and loosing my husband for an additional three nights a week plus his day job, I learned peace. Elisabeth, I have learned many things through your company during these trials. I never would have suspected the abundant joy, love, calm, trust, and peace that naturally flows in obedience. His yoke is indeed easy and His burden is supremely light! I know you must have read hundreds of letters with the same stories, but I do not think the miracle of the stories could be any less amazing if told for all eternity! I would not change any of these merciful trials.
God has seen fit to give us a new dwelling. The ceilings must be scraped, and dated, stained wallpaper must be replaced.
There are bullet holes through the kitchen sink and no air conditioning for the humid North Carolina summer. Yet our cups overflow to bursting!
Our girls run and sing in thankfulness and John David squeaks and smiles! John and I make our home together…together remembering His love. Thank you for your catalysts! I do count on visiting with you often in eternity. However, should you ever meander our direction, know that there is always a rocker on the porch waiting to be warmed, tea to be shared, and a room to be filled should you or your husband ever be so inclined to honor us with a visit.
With full sisterly love,
This letter made me think a bit on suffering. Have I suffered? Well there have been a few bumps in the “road” but not anything as debilitating as being homeless. One can suffer in sickness, in the loss of a loved one—a friend—a family member—even the departure of a Scottie dog but how does one accept the darkening shadows of evening with no welcoming place of comfort to call home? It’s so easy when all is well to say “yes” to Amy Carmichael’s familiar line, “In Acceptance Lieth Peace” but to have joy in doing so, that is another matter.
Suffering can also be less tangible as in the vicissitudes of aging where words brought forth by the mind is not intelligible to the listening ear and one wonders who suffers most the speaker of the listener. Even in this, if within the safe confines of a home, joy can be the present. It reminds me of the many times I listened to Elisabeth quoting Eli Wiesel, who experienced the horrors of the Concentration Camps and said, “That every freedom can be taken away from man except one and that is the freedom to choose your attitude.”
So as I grouse about one thing or another. I need to be reminded of what I have been given, to hold for awhile in an open hand, before a stranger comes along who will say, “Come see us in our home—‘The Haven at the Cove.’” James writes in the opening chapter, “Count it all joy…” in encountering trials of all sorts. May I learn that response of joy even in old age. Kristen’s letter was an encouragement towards that goal.
In my reply I asked about the bullet holes and wondered if it was robbery or the end of a domestic altercation? “Neither--rather the result of a drug bust.”
And that’s it from the Cove.
God bless y'all,