Looking up from my red velvety chaise lounge sofa in my basement study (a truly luxurious addition after decades of reading and writing as well as grading many student papers at a proper desk), I watch the snow falling steadily in the backyard this January Friday morning, January 10, 2020. Christmassy snow is late on this otherwise rainy southwest coastal corner of Canada, softening grey skies, elevating (I hope) caution and even courtesy on the ever-busier Greater Vancouver roadways. The gentle whiteness is sticking to the evergreen cedars outside, bending the bamboo to half its height, and settling more generously on the delicate web of the barren Dogwood branches, the older growth Douglas Fir straddling the property line that is respected by our neighbours and developers alike, and on the twin maple giants farther away.
“It’s like Narnia outside,” a daughter says, pausing to visit in passing. “And cozy in here.”
“Yes,” I answer, and add, “And it’s a room that Mr. Tumnus himself might have approved of. A room with a view—” And the thought propels itself, “A cave with a view….”
Yes, this is my cave with a view. From this cave I see the first ten to twenty feet or so of these backyard sentinels, depending on perspective. It is enough. The new deck railing and the old rooftop carrier suspended upside down from the upper deck rafters obscuring a small part of the scene, a legacy from past family camping trips, don’t impede my quiet enjoyment in the least. The vista I cannot see only enhances what I can see. Hold that thought, I say to myself. Why ask for more? There is more, unending more, but does demanding greater vision increase it?
Good things can happen in caves, I tell myself. Refugee David hid from his murderous enemies and wrote poem-prayers that still help heal the hearts of millions. The same refugee David didn’t kill his would-be murderer, insanely jealous King Saul, when he could have. And he continued to write poem-prayers that help save the souls of millions. His descendent, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, was born in a cave, perhaps, or might as well have been, amidst the livestock, away from pomp and prestige, and safe, safe from evil King Herod, safe for a time.
And here in my cave I take refuge. Refuge: the place of shelter from danger and trouble. The place where we can escape to, find comfort, aid, sanctuary. Like a traffic island, for example, as the Oxford English Dictionary tells us. And people that seek refuge are refugees. I remember that my family members were once refugees fleeing their native Poland at the end of the Second World War. They escaped, finding refuge here, next to the Pacific, where I find myself. Here, in my cave with a view, selecting words to type on my laptop, or scribble in a notebook, I too am a refugee in a haven.
Here in the semi-privacy of my cave-study with my open door policy to family members, I labour, dream, create, pray. Here I negotiate the fulsome list of tasks for the day, an undertaking that could inspire other people’s book titles (with their worthwhile wisdom), like Joyce Meyer’s Overload (a book I can recommend). Here I navigate the tasks of the day, this day. Here I ponder the terrible news of the week. Sometimes I rest. Here I experience laughter and tears.
Here, treasuring the Narnia moment, I recall the photo the same daughter took of me this past Christmas Eve in the magically transformed foyer of our church, Walnut Grove Lutheran. “Sit,” she commands, and I obey, smiling up at her from the bench nestled in amidst the red poinsettias, the brightly lit fir trees planted on the snowy fabric—an annual scene crowned with the shining old-fashioned lamppost. Satisfied with her picture, she declares, “Mom, you’re Lucy Pevensie!” My laughter, me as Lucy, entering and reentering Narnia—how delightful. Me, this aging Lucy, but then again, older and younger all at once, rejoicing in the One Lion King Who ever was and shall be. Therefore who I am and will be is timeless, He says.
Here in my cave with a view I can believe again in Epiphany, and do.