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The Front Porch

It only took a full three-day weekend of research, cogitating and trial and error word-pairing to settle on it—a blog name, that is. While some readers may think it inconsequential, I submit that the naming of something is a perilous undertaking. At times, even presumptuous. Perhaps you’ve ruminated, like me, on the responsibility attached to the the name ‘Joy,’ ‘Grace,’ or even the weightier moniker, ‘Christian’ when one’s countenance/action on any particular day does not match the appellation! As much as parents intend it for good, it seems a bit burdensome to me.

That said, my new blog title: The Front Porch: Unplugged Reflections on Life and Faith is a carefully-considered naming or ‘christening,’ as it were. I pray it lives up to its designation. Consider it a little monastery of hospitality and grace where with a pastor and fellow pilgrim, you are invited to ‘pull up a rocker’ with your favorite beverage (hot or cold) and share a journey. Here on this ‘porch,’ we will reflect on issues of both life and faith because for me, each informs the other.  A strange and wonderful dance!

It was on my own childhood porch (with ostentatious turquoise porch swing and vintage mid-century aluminum webbed folding lawn chairs) that the adults solved the problems of the world while we kids played under their watchful eye. It was on this same porch that my parents taught their progeny hymns of the faith, the joy of reading and the wonders of the night sky. This setting equally doubled as the hallowed ground where my Father provided a safe place for his first-born, a daughter, to pose questions about God and the galaxy when her hand-me-down theological paradigm no longer fit.

‘Don’t ever stop asking questions. Stay curious,’ my Dad insisted. ‘It keeps you real, Honey. Just don’t tell your Mother how we two dance with doubt!’ Curious. For the man who lived to question and to obstinately advocate the opposite viewpoint (whether he held it or not), the final days of his life interrupted were filled with more peace than query. What silenced his questions, I am uncertain.  Maybe he received a ‘visitation’ in the night alone in the hospital ICU unit—his unsuspecting home for 21 short days after a ravenous stomach cancer diagnosis. Maybe he cranked up his always beautiful mind in the wee hours of the morning and finally resolved his most weighty existential conundrums. Or maybe it was some other indeterminate resignation that enveloped him. I can tell you one thing for sure, were we sitting together on that porch about now, I would ask him straight up for an explanation and a long, lovely conversation would surely ensue. A thin place indeed.

It would not be a far stretch to name my childhood ‘front porch’ as a parcel of fertile soil in which my life vocation was born. For it was in that place of designated family retreat that the dance of faith and life took sacred shape. Holy ground.

No matter its size, structure or configuration, a home does not seem complete without a porch. One could say the same for the church. At least that’s the way I see it.

Pastor and Pilgrim,
Michelle

 

 

Comments(20)

  1. Reply
    Stacey says

    Thanks for taking me back to my childhood where the front porch was a special place where we visited with family and friends!

    • Reply
      Michelle McKinnon-Young says

      Glad it struck a chord with you, Stacey! Invite some people over once your porch project is completed!

  2. Reply
    Connie says

    I LOVE THIS! Michelle, you are so real and genuine and welcoming. Thank you for welcoming us to your sacred front porch.

    • Reply
      Michelle McKinnon-Young says

      You are so welcome, Connie! It was truly a bittersweet exercise in writing as I reflected on my precious Dad–what it meant to have him and lose him. We shared a LOT on that front porch. Glad it blessed you!

  3. Reply
    Nirmala says

    You are quite the writer! Thank you for the reflections on family and roots that shape our faith and our lives.

  4. Reply
    Michelle McKinnon-Young says

    Not sure if I know you, “Nirmala,” but it warms my heart that my reflections on family roots touched you. I am thrilled to finally launch this blog. It has been in me for a long time!

  5. Reply
    Chloe Stewart says

    This is going to be great! I do have a front porch also that gets used a lot. Perfect coffee & sharing place.

  6. Reply
    Chloe Stewart says

    This is going to be great! I do have a front porch also that gets used a lot. Perfect coffee & sharing place.

  7. Reply
    Michelle McKinnon-Young says

    Yes Chloe! This is going to be fun! Would love to come over and sit on your porch and enjoy a cup of coffee together?!

  8. Reply
    Nancy Henninger says

    Beautiful writing and thoughts Michelle. I miss your sermons and you and making Music with Gary so much! Thank you for those special Memories. <3 <3

    • Reply
      Michelle says

      Dear sweet Nancy. I recieved your kind remarks and I thank you so much for taking the time to respond! We miss you very much too! Holston Cinference is sending a wonderful new pastor (and a talented wife) to ESUMC Prague in Decrmber. He us a personal friend abs us imminently qualified for the position! We can talk on Skype about this and catch up while we are at it! Miss you and our lovely Prague!

  9. Reply
    Cynthia Carnahan says

    Yes, our porch is an extension of our home and heart (at least in the South). You can move away, but always find comfort in the simple ways. I will enjoy reading your blog posts.

    • Reply
      Michelle McKinnon-Young says

      CINDY! I miss you, girl! Wow! You and Dan are busy making your own version of a life and home in the house that found you…and your handiwork is beautiful to behold! I am happy you are reading my blog and to receive your comments. While the parsonage here has a tiny stoop for a front porch, our private wooded deck serves part the purpose as does the sanctuary we have created within the parsonage and with each other. I think of you often and pray your heart is healthy and strong! Hugs to all the people you love!

  10. Reply
    Stephanie Soares Pump says

    The name is perfect Michelle. While i didn’t grow up with a front porch (we had patios and lanais!) i do understand thinking and contemplating and having a supportive dad. Our talks would be on the beach at my grandparents or a picnic table at church. My father encourage questions and was very accepting of mine. Thanks so much for the sharing you do!

    • Reply
      Michelle McKinnon-Young says

      Thanks Steph. A point of interest is that the name found me during the night! It was not anything crafted in my mind or on the page. Already it feels my writing will be less restricted as there are no demands to fit into a ‘well-crafted’ but maybe irrelevant category. As important as the porch are the people who shared it with me across time and the lessons it afforded me. I am happy for your patio, lanais and picnic table. And the Dad and others who shared it with you. Let’s keep meeting here! What fun!

  11. Reply
    Jo Lobertini says

    This is moving and beautiful! Thank you for sharing your stories and your journey. I also remember the magic of the front porch, especially with my grandparents there, telling stories and talking, while the children caught lightening bugs and swung on the porch swing. Thank you for bringing back the memories and the magic.

  12. Reply
    Sandy Lofy says

    Wow! I’ll never look at a front porch the same way again. My husband and I solve the world’s problems on our back patio. I loved this piece and I look forward to reading more.

  13. Reply
    Karina Bolan says

    What a beautifully written piece Michelle, it just exudes the strong, calm, gentle peace that you have. I look forward to reading more!

  14. Reply
    Shel says

    This is fun! Do you really have time for this? Maybe this is a “best-use” of time in our electronic age. Feelings are so important to share, and you are doing it well. Your dad sounds like my kind of guy. Is that why we connect so well?

    • Reply
      Michelle McKinnonYoung says

      Hi Shel,
      I don’t have time NOT to do this! I have always wanted this forum to speak! I am glad you are enjoying my writing. And yes, you do remind me a bit of my father. Please suggest topics for my blog that you would take the time to read. I will truly consider them. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

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