My grandmother always said it would be up to my cousin Sarah and me to "clean up the mess upstairs." Few things in my life have been as difficult as cleaning out that house after my grandmother died.
It was the house where my grandmother came to live as a young bride. At that time, her mother-in-law was still alive and my grandparents cared for her until she died at the ripe old age of 96. "Don't ever live with your in-laws," Grandma advised. "You never have a thing that feels like your own." That was as close as she ever got to complaining about the fact that she rarely left the side of my great-grandmother, who was bedfast for the last 10 years of her life.
The house has been closed up for over a year, but from time to time I still go there, raise the windows to air it out, and walk through the empty rooms. Yes, it makes me sad, but it also brings back so many memories.
My favorite part of the house has always been the front porch. When I was a little girl, my grandmother and I would sit on the front porch swing together and watch the world go by. The chains would clink and clang softly while the swing creaked beneath our weight. We'd guess what color car would come down the road next. We'd pick out animal shapes in the clouds.
Maybe I'm remembering things through rose-colored glasses, but it seems as if the sky was always blue, the birds were always singing, and I was always safe, loved, and at peace when I was there. As I got older, that peaceful feeling became more elusive. There's always somewhere I'm supposed to be or something I'm supposed to do. At times, I yearn for that kind of peace.
"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT)
When I remember to do this, when I pray and thank God, I can find a peace more wonderful and serene than even the peace I felt on my Grandma's porch swing. It's truly a feeling more wonderful than the human mind can understand.