Ramblings from the Cove...

November 2008

By Lars Gren

“The Postman Always Rings Twice” was a movie which I did not see and need not have seen for no doubt it would have made the hairs on the back of head run parallel to the ceiling. But the title made me think of our postmaster in the Magnolia’s one man post office who once said, “That as long as we lived in Magnolia there would be no fear in this branch being closed.” Well we did receive a lot of mail but our mailman never had to “ring” twice in the same day. The mail has decreased in volume but it is still a fair bit and our policy has always been to reply to each one that writes. Perhaps the decrease is good considering our slowing abilities—it takes twice as long to get half the amount done now as it did ten or so years ago.

There is a significant change in the content of the letters where earlier on a great number of the letters were for speaking invitation. Now that has almost reached zero for most have heard that Elisabeth has stepped aside although last week a very nice invitation arrived but I didn’t think it fair to suggest coming just to have coffee and visit that part of the country. Most of the messages now are notes of encouragement for Elisabeth’s writings, talks or the radio programs that are still listened to. Then there are the book and tape orders where I remove my “gopher’s hat” and switch to my “chief shipper’s” hat. Others are of the, “I have been meaning to write but now I am doing so before it is too late.” It leaves me wondering if they mean before postage goes up another five cents or while the recipients are still “compos mantes.” Then there are a few who desire, shall we say, to attend the final affair and would like to be notified if “anything happens.” That leaves me in a quandary for if we or they move from the present address the post office will only forward first class mail for one year and I guess after that they deposit it in the dead letter box. The strangest request came from a distant relative who had a free airline voucher which would be used to attend the services. Of course I asked if the voucher had an expiration date which if it did would make one very uncomfortable or if the event was held in a region that the airline did not service was there a partner airline who would honor the ticket? Alright, Elisabeth does say that I have a strange sense of humor along with an odd imagination at times and I agree.

Another change that has come about since we spend most of our days at The Cove is the number of visitors many of whom we are meeting for the first time. Some have asked to come for a few days and that has worked out while others call and are here long enough to enjoy a meal together and sightsee a bit around Cape Ann. I do tell folks that I hope it will not be a let down for we are not up to scintillating conversations these days not that we ever were. But it is not quite as bad as the time when Nelson Rockefeller’s son married an old friend of mine in Norway. The two father-in-laws were sitting on a stone fence looking out over the sea from the bride’s home on an island. After a good while of sitting and gazing out they parted. Later a local asked, “Well how was it to spend time with such a famous man as Mr. Rockefeller?” “Oh,” said Rasmussen, “Ja det var lange stille stunder” meaning, “It was a long silent time.” Rasmussen spoke not a word of English and the other R. not a word of Norwegian.

Well, we are a cut above that, at least I think so, but the difficult thing is that Elisabeth has a hard time getting a hold of words. Strange for someone who was never at a loss for a word and the proper one too. Now there are a bunch of good folks who have written and have given kind suggestions on medicines both natural and otherwise, on what to do or helps to give and we appreciate that and also for the prayers offered but as she is now heading into her 83rd year we’ll just shuffle along as long as the Lord allows it and be grateful. We still manage to walk to the departure gates without a cane, which I think is foolish for swinging one might make us look dignified.

Where do we amble? Mainly to see friends from the past that we met while “traveling the road.” The upside is that we enjoyed Bert and Colleen Elliot in Peru this winter and also escaped the cold by heading to Florida as well as a couple of times to Texas, a favorite spot for Elisabeth. Lord willing we will be there again in November and then on to Pasadena where Valerie and some of the family are living. Walt and Valerie returned after 3 years in the Congo where he was pastor of the English speaking church and now they have a year in the States. The downside of this is that there are many who we would love to see again but it is foolish to think that we will be able to do so. More than once I’ve said to Elisabeth, “Shall we warn a few friends that we are doing a driving tour and see how long we can keep going?” I’m afraid that the word would get around and the latchkey would be withdrawn but it’s a fun thought.

Since I started out with a film I’ll offer you a song but for sure one which you would never have chosen and one that I may never have heard sung but once, yet it has a line which has been in my head on more than one occasion.

People are queer, they're always crowing, scrambling and rushing about;
Why don't they stop someday, address themselves this way?
Why are we here? where are we going? it's time that we found out.
We're not here to stay; we're on a short holiday.

Life is just a bowl of cherries.
Don't take it serious; it's too mysterious.
You work, you save, you worry so,
But you can't take your dough when you go, go, go.

It has a good timing swing tune but the truth is that life is not always a bowl of cherries there are some “pitts along the way” even when we know why we are here—to serve—where are we headed—by God’s grace to heaven. Our stay here is short—comparatively so—we do work, save and do our bit of worrying even when we know it does not aid our cause and materially we depart as we arrived with nothing in hand and the mystery of it all is unveiled in the Cross—as the old hymn puts it, “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.” So life is much more than a bowl of cherries.

Elisabeth was invited to a weekend retreat once a bit north of Los Angeles. Among other things she spoke of was what God puts on our “plate” each day. That we are to receive it gladly with thanksgiving and offer it back to Him. It so happened that we were at the epicenter of an earthquake that was “scheduled” to occur the day after we left to return to Costa Mesa area. Early Monday morning Elisabeth woke up thinking that I was having convulsions for the bed was shaking. Then I awoke and asked her what was going on? “We are having an earthquake.” “What should we do?” “Nothing.” So I turned on the TV to get the news and to watch as monitors and other items began tumbling and the announcer took refuge under the desk. A few weeks later we had a letter from a mother and her daughter who had attended the retreat and lived near the epicenter. When the quake ended there was not one or perhaps there was one piece of unbroken pottery in their home. The thought came to one of them who then said, “Well Elisabeth, mentioned to receive whatever God puts on our plate and this must be what He meant for us today.”

It was Elisabeth’s plan as she reached 77 or so to continue speaking if there were invitations to do so but as with everything in life, changes arrive unexpectedly. It may begin with TIAs as they are referred to. Then other ills seem to creep in as we age. Imperceptibly our abilities change—well what else can we expect? So we adjust and say, “Thank you Lord for what is on our plate, even when we have become like the shattered plate—having all the pieces and only lacking the connections. Easy? No. But what are our options? As Amy Carmichael put it, “In acceptance lieth peace.”

And that’s it from the Cove.

God bless y'all,

Lars

 
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