The year is 1964. I’m four years old. My older siblings are in school and I’m home alone with my mom. She fills the aluminum coffeepot with water and Eight O’clock coffee kept in a Tupperware container. She lights the stove, washes the breakfast dishes and quickly tidies the house. The women start arriving, having walked no more than a block to get to our brown brick home. One carries an infant, the rest come carrying various types of Bibles. Within moments the small house is full of chatter, the coffee is percolating, and chairs are scraping across the linoleum as the women gather around the table.
For one hour the women listen as my mom reads and teaches from her worn black Bible. I hear the name “Jesus” several times. They eagerly ask questions. They search the words in their Bibles as if they are more important than the homemade pie on the table. How I wish I could join them. But I’m too little to read and I don’t have a Bible. I interrupt my mother, ask her for one. She sends me up to the attic to find an ancient Bible and I find it easily among the bookshelves, it seems to be waiting for me. I return with it and stand outside their circle, Bible open, looking hard at the red and black letters, willing myself to make sense of them. I cannot.
They share grownup stories in excited tones, stories I’m too young to understand. Wistfully, I look around the circle. The infant nurses at her mother’s bare breast. The women laugh, grow sad, and laugh some more. They drink the coffee, eat the pie and ask my mother to teach them how to make pie dough. They pray and then chairs scrape and it’s time to go, children will be home from school for lunch. My mother is smiling happily, content as she promises the recipe and sees them to the door. My world is good and secure and all it needs to be.
It’s 1984. I have two daughters and am pregnant with my third child. We have moved into a house in a neighborhood that is full of families. But I know none of them. I feel like I’m the only woman home during the day, and it’s true, most women are at work. I try the old adage “to make a friend be a friend”, but nothing comes of it. I make plenty of pies, my mother taught me well, but there are no friends with whom to share them.
I see, at 24, that change is constant. I look at my marriage and see how hasty it was, how quickly I threw away innocence and truth in search of love. I gained love and marriage but what did I lose? I can see at last how critical sound choices are, what my parent’s divorce in 1967 cost all of us and now my oldest is four and what stability will I give her? I get down on my knees and ask forgiveness for all the selfish mistakes I’ve made in recent years. I pray that my daughters will know the security of truth, that they too will hear the name Jesus spoken at the kitchen table, that they will see the need for vulnerability, for honesty, and I promise to give them Bibles with words that may be difficult to understand at first but will eventually point them to truth and never, ever change. I pray for strength then, and wisdom, to give my children all the good that my mother gave me and then some, to point them to the forgiveness of Jesus and to God’s unconditional love.
When I stand up and wipe away my tears, I take stock of myself. I am aware that while nothing has changed externally, somehow, by this simple act of faith, it is well with my soul. The external losses, the gains and pains of love, they fade in the light of this peace. Suddenly, my world is good and secure and all it needs to be, once more.