Open Sesame . . .
Hand your children a treasure hunt clue — to open last — on Christmas Day:
Find the one space in our house
you’ve never discovered;
the next clue is waiting,
under the covers.
Off they run, room to room, upstairs and down . . .
that hidden, under-the-eaves place
behind their bedroom wall, where
you knelt, while they were at school,
nailing plywood to joists,
unrolling the red oriental rug
to cushion their small bare feet — that open
space, where you crowned the vent pipe
with twisted, brown-paper limbs
and colored leaves that
tremble, each time the door opens.
A secret room.
With posters for windows.
With a cupboard brimming with books. Wooden houses that nest like Russian dolls. Repainted toys.
Year-round peace, goodwill to all who stoop to enter.
This year I imagine telling our grandkids, again, about no room in the inn.
“But where did the room go?” “Did somebody take it?” “Why didn’t they share? (We always have to.)”
Christmas approaches. I want them to experience hiddenness. Marvel. Creative spaciousness, born of spirit.
So, I’m starting early, by savoring stories, essays, poems, and secret rooms you may not have thought about.
“It takes childlike faith to believe in a reality beyond the grim one we know so well,” Philip Yancey writes, “and to keep celebrating regardless.”
Do you believe we can recover innocence? If so, how do we begin? Can it be sustained? Shared?
P.S. Daniel Taylor says, “A story that still bothers you sixty years after it happened might be a story to pay attention to.”
Friends, thank you for praying! My new poetry collection, House of 49 Doors: entries in a life, will be published by The Poeima Poetry Series, in 2024! Within these linked poems, a family secret—stifled for six decades—unfurls: relived by my preteen self, named Larkin, and revisited in the present-day by Eldergirl. Amid vivid memories of my eccentric childhood home (and the wild creatures living nearby), long overdue healing and gratitude finally rise.
Which reminds me: Happy Thanksgiving!
P.S. About that Advent book I’ve been savoring. Here’s the link.
A Radiant Birth: Advent Readings for a Bright Season. It’s a Christmas treasury and it includes both quotes above. Morning by morning, the pages beckon me toward discovery. Entries read like clues. I step into a fresh dimension, thoughtfully arranged for a seeker, revealing aspects of alternate worlds within our familiar one.
From the archives: Sometimes the Gift Tears You Open