Posted by: Terry | August 4, 2015

My Happy Place, a porch, a chapel

IMG_1223We always call it the “house on 48th street.” Granny lived there, just a few blocks South of Woodstock in Southeast Portland. It was a double lot, Granny called the second lot, with her roses and other plants the back forty. There was a tool shed, leaning a bit, of rough weathered wood, that at one time was a garage for a car of Model T dimensions but too small and depreciated for the cars of 1958 when we lived there while our house in Milwaukie was being built.

This was the house my dad grew up in, and vestiges of him were tucked away in the cabinets of the two upstairs bedrooms, reached by the narrow staircase that was entered by a door next to a small wood burning stove, a remnant of the day when cooking was done on a full size wood stove.

Granny, Edith, lived there with Grandmother. My grandparents had different names: Grandpa, my mother’s dad, was the only male grandparent I ever knew. Grandma was his wife, and my mother’s mother. Grandmother was my Great-grandmother in reality, but since my dad called her Grandmother so did I for the brief time I knew her. She was the 13th child of the Shaw’s who had emigrated from Scotland at the end of the 19th century. There was Granddad, but I never met him, my dad’s grandfather.

Granny was dad’s mother. She was born a Stikney but married into the Christopherson clan. She was a secretary, a tailor, and an artist; she was a single mother at a time when that was rare.

Granny and Grandmother lived there along with Molly, Grandmother’s caregiver who came most days so Granny could go to work. Granny always slept on the couch to be near Grandmother in case she needed anything in the night; I remember her making up her bed each evening.

As an eight year old this house is still one of the clearest memories I have of where we lived. We moved a lot when I was younger, Astoria, Oregon being the only place we stayed for more than a year.

They were good memories. Riding a red bicycle that was too big for me, which Dad bought at a police auction, Boy Scout pocket knife to slice cucumbers from the garden, playing croquet at the neighbors, and the little store down the dirt ally with penny and nickel candy when we had that much. It was a great summer.

The house on 48th Street had a porch, a small porch, maybe eight feet square at best, with a gabled roof, two pillars at the front, two steps flanked by shrubs. There was a screen door, and possibly a bench but I am not sure.

One day that summer of ’58 I vividly remember Granny and Molly, and me, on the porch. I don’t know why or how it came about but together they recited John 14, the entire chapter. I have never forgot that. “Let not your heart be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Fathers house are many mansions, if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you and if I go I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am you may be also.” All these 57 years later I remember that as if it was yesterday. And today it is still one of my favorite passages of comfort.

There is a chapel just above the city of Moustier Saint Marie in the South of France that has a similar porch, just a bit bigger and more rustic, but the same shape and roof. To the left is a cemetery, to the right a grove of olive trees. We stayed there 3 days in 2013. Moustier sits on the side of a rugged and rocky mountain. Each morning I would rise before dawn and climb the steep, winding, narrow street from our hotel to the chapel. Sitting on the side of the porch I read the morning office, passages from Psalms, Old Testament, Epistles, and the Gospels. The sun would peek over the hills to the East as I was praying. Those were special mornings, the best times of a wonderful three weeks in Europe.

Today I have my Happy Place. When we bought the house in 2000 it had two kitchens. Jay, my friend and contractor who is now in glory, ripped out the basement kitchen, then turned it into a library, my Happy Place. One whole wall is bookshelves, there is a small sink and a counter for making tea and washing paint brushes, there is a wicker chair, a table and a lamp.

There is no place in this world that I long for most when I need comfort and peace. It is here that most mornings I start with a cup of tea and time with God. I can read about God, read the Bible, and pray in the car, or on a bus, or on a plane, but it is not the same. I re-create the mornings as much as I can when in hotels, having tea and spending time with God, but it is always best in my Happy Place.

In this busy world I need that hour each morning, which is why I get up at 5.00am. This is where I get to talk to God about the day, about me, about him. Sometimes I just sit and soak in his presence as I did on that porch in Moustier. Sometimes, when times are tough, I open my Bible to John 14, and let Granny and Molly recite it to me all over again. With the second cup of tea I talk to my glorious God about all the things on my heart, he listens, and he talks.

He walks with me

And he talks with me

And he tells me I am his Own.

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Responses

  1. I liked this in the space above and then it didn’t let me advance. But I liked it anyway!

  2. What wonderful memories. I remember those days too. What a blessing to remember the days when we were moving into to our new home in Milwaukee.


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