Thursday, October 18, 2007


"Her Old Homeplace"

When I was a kid, we had a neighbor named Joy. Joy lived down the road, less than a mile from us, in a little white planked house with peeling paint. She lived very simply and only wanted two things that I ever heard her talk about. The first and most important thing she wanted was to go to Heaven. The second thing she wanted was to get bricks put on her little house. "Just like that third little pig," she would say. I loved her house the way it was - a safe haven for me when I felt so alone.

To this day, I have not found joy to match the warmth and delight I always saw in that sweet lady's face.

I was just a poor little kid and thought no one really cared about me. But Joy was always glad to see me. She spent a lot of time sitting on her couch by the front window, watching the cars go down our lonely little road. She would start waving when she saw me coming across her yard. “Hey!” she would holler, and come running out of her little house. “Guess what happened to me today?” she would ask, with her eyes sparkling. She always had a little story for me. One day an angel had visited her. One day she found a special beautiful leaf – it had floated right up to the window – and she claimed the Lord had sent it to her. She had it in her Bible. And one day she realized how blessed she was to have the view of a beautiful mountain in her own back yard. “The Lord has put me in this place”, she declared with a smile.

My Grandmother told me that Joy was not right in the head after her husband ran off with some old hussie, but I had never heard Joy talk about that. She seemed to be filled all the way to the top with happiness and when she talked it sounded like laughing spilling out of her mouth. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with Joy at all. I thought it would be nice to know a lot more people just like her.

One day, I walked down the road to her house. I was sixteen and I was running away to get married the next morning. No one knew what I was planning, but Joy was one of the people I wanted to see before I left my childhood behind. I walked across Joy’s yard and she immediately popped out of her little house. She had a lace tablecloth around her head and shoulders. With laughter spilling out of her sweet face, Joy exclaimed, “Look - I am the bride of the Lord Jesus Christ!”

I hugged Joy and said, “see you tomorrow” – but it would be many years before I saw her again.

One day, a few months ago, my two sisters and I drove up into the “country” to see our childhood home. We stopped at Joy’s house. She came spilling out to greet us. Time almost stood still and, for a moment, nothing seemed different except Joy’s pretty black hair had turned to silver. And - oh yes - her little house now had red bricks on it - all the way around!

With smiles and tears, we left, each of us carrying a batch of teacakes. As we backed out of the driveway, Joy came tottering across the yard again. “Thank you for coming to see me,” her laughing voice said. “I’m going to call everyone and tell them what happened to me today. I’m going to tell everyone about my blessing!”

It was my blessing too. Oh what a joy!