One of my favorite childhood memories is waking up in my grandparents house to the smell of coffee and toast, clean sheets and the lingering sent of grandma’s soap and lotion, and grandpa’s aftershave.
I was upstairs, usually in the blue room with two twin beds, windows that opened up over the street below, a ginormous walk in closet at one end, and a secret crawl space at the other. My grandma’s desk was in this room, under the windows. It was piled with neat stacks of books, papers and a calendar. Envelopes and stamps and bits of this or that decorated the space around it’s top. I loved looking at her handwriting. Feeling her presence in the room, even when she wasn’t there.
I’d tip toe to the top of the stairs just as the sun was rising, and listen. The air was still, heavy with a peacefulness that wrapped around me like warm steam and filled me with a sense of security. Warmth would engulf me, even in the chilliest mornings. It was always the same here. Predictable. Reliable.
I’d hear it then. The deep lull of Grandpa’s voice as he spoke.
I couldn’t hear the words he made, but the sound of his voice gave me a sense of having my feet firmly planted, unshakable and strong. As a kid I didn’t know the words, but I knew the feeling of being grounded when I heard Grandpa’s voice.
The depth of his voice filled the air, even though he spoke so softly. His whole presence filled their house, and I knew safety. I’d run down the stairs and into the breakfast nook, where they were sitting. Grandpa facing the windows, Grandma’s back to the kitchen, their hands held over their bibles, coffee cups within reach…
When Grandpa prayed I felt a sense of wonder, like he was searching, questioning, investigating, and at the same time completely confident and sure of his words. I felt the most confidence when my Grandpa prayed. It felt like he was just being himself talking to someone else, same intonations and inflections as when he spoke with other people. He was okay not having the answers, he was comfortable being curious, while being completely certain.
My first taste of an immeasurable God was in my Grandpa’s prayers; where a man could be honest, questioning and certain all at the same time. And in the unchanging quality of my grandparents’ talent for getting up before dawn to be together with Him. It was a taste of His steadfastness in immeasurable quality, the unchanging security of remaining at a habit year after year. Even in my youngest mind I understood there had to be a real God for someone to be so good at getting up so early to talk to Him.