What Happened to Front Porches?
What has happened to front porches? There’s something about a front porch . . . a swing, two Adirondack chairs with a table between them. Or better yet, a high-backed rocking chair. Built-in, ready- made hospitality beckons:
“Come, sit awhile.” “Bring a glass of iced tea, a pen and paper, a good book, or even those green beans you need to break for dinner.” Most of all, be expectant. Wait, watch, and listen.
From a front porch in the morning, the Creator allowed me to watch Him place the sun in place. The day awoke. Like colorful mystery of a kaleidoscope, the day’s mélange began to happen.
I’ve learned that a “front porch”can be found in all kinds of settings if we look for it. I have had many. A favorite one was at the front of a mission home in Haiti, slightly elevated, making the view amazing. Beyond buildings, walking paths, and the hub of activity, the vast Caribbean Sea was in view. From the front porch I watched it “stir,” and move from stillness to bobbing white caps. Movement and sounds around the compound reminded me it was waking up. Roosters crowed, a donkey brayed, footsteps on gravel, a key opening the gate, then a motorcycle revving up to take off. The sights and sounds of breakfast chatter, kettles and pots, then vendors arriving early and unloading their produce to sell. Writing fast, I tried to capture it all from this front porch spot. I would never have an experience like this again; it was a one-time gift. Soft music, by women singing as they worked to prepare breakfast, accompanied my front porch experience, adding to the blessed quietness I had sought.
A view of The Great Smokey Mountains from our Tennessee cabin porch in the woods was the setting for much needed respite. I remember texting a friend to look up a song that kept coming to me in the midst of what was very real to me – God’s Presence. The sun rose, and the sun set. My husband and I watched both. In between times, refreshing breezes blew across the screened in porch. Little creatures scurried down below, spiders and ants went about their work quietly while we took in the ambiance of the Creator Himself and listened. Small birds fluttering about, stopping to perch, to peck around, then move on taught a fresh lesson on God’s care for us. The little conversational sounds of our new feathered friends among themselves seemed to be discussing the Father’s care for them, bringing to mind the words of Jesus in Matthew, chapter six.
Gently, yet profoundly, the words of the song flowed: “When God is near, so near I hear Him speak to me, my every need His boundless grace supplies; When God is near, my heart…”
From another porch, just down the hill, over the way, there is a glistening pond that provides a habitat for ducks and geese. At nighttime, the frogs entertain, as well as disturb people’s sleep with their competitive croaking. Not to be outdone, the crickets join in the evening festivities. Spending a little time in this setting from the big front porch at our son’s home, I was reminded me of my growing up days. The front porch was a happening place. People sat and visited, watched cars go by with wondering questions like, “Who could that be?” “I’ve never seen that car before.” On summer days, produce from the garden, like green beans or peas that needed shelled, would be gathered and worked on. Perhaps it was a bushel of peaches or apples needing peeled, while sitting on the porch, usually “where it is cool” because of no air conditioning in the house. Homemade ice cream was served on the front porch. Oh, and does anyone remember catching fireflies, or lightning bugs, putting them in a soda pop bottle – then leaving them on the porch overnight? I do. So vividly I can almost feel the little nighttime bugs scurrying to get out of my hand.
Again, I ask, “What has happened to front porches?” I propose that a front porch is a place to pause, and rest a bit. While a literal front porch can be ideal, a “front porch atmosphere” can be attained without boards and nails, like the back porch or a deck. As Jesus called His disciples to “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest,” He calls us to come, listen, watch, and wait. He is already there.