Thursday, October 10, 2013

Day 11: Red Lion Inn

     A few years ago, I had the unexpected privilege of going away for a Fall weekend with a girlfriend.  On a Friday evening, Mary and I left our respective spouses and kids to tough it out and we headed off to Mary's timeshare in Massachusetts.  We had lots of fun.  Mary and I spent Saturday morning at some outlet centers.  After that we wandered through the shops on the main streets in some cute little towns.  Eventually, we ended up in Stockbridge.
     At the center of Stockbridge is a gorgeous landmark, the Red Lion Inn.  The Red Lion Inn was built in 1773.  It is an enormous rambling hotel, complete with an indoor pool, dining room, and two stores.  You may have seen a picture of this inn on the back of the Country Curtains catalog.   The picture does not begin to do it justice.  Two waist high pumpkins sat on either side of the main stair leading to a lovely porch that stretched across the entire front of the hotel.  People sat in rocking chairs, and at table on the porch enjoying the day.
     Mary and I climbed up the steps onto the porch.  We wandered over toward the main doors.  On our way, we passed a man who looked entirely at home, tipped back in a rocker, his eyes slipping closed, feet propped up on a hassock.  We commented to him that he looked very comfortable.  He laughed and agreed.  It was a beautiful Fall day.
     Mary and I toured the gift shop and then went into the beautiful main lobby.  The floors were old wide board planks with oriental carpets placed artfully about.  The rooms were full of elegant antiques..  There were portraits on the walls and a grand piano.  We saw a golden-cage type elevator around which was a staircase leading up to the guest rooms.
     Naturally we were curious about the guest rooms.  Looking like we knew where we were going, and as though we had every right to be there, we started up the steps.  The second floor had wide hallways that bowed slightly in the middle.  There were curio cabinets filled with antique porcelain dishes and teacups more portraits and odd bits of memorabilia.  OUr subterfuge had not been discovered and the second floor made up want to see the next.  So we continued on and up to the fourth floor admiring all the wonderful old things on display.
       Mary and I were glad we hadn't been caught out, but frustrated that we could only see the hallway and not the rooms.  I commented to her that it was too bad that we didn't know a real guest of the hotel, when the gentleman who had looked so comfortable on the porch appeared.  Mary lost no time in boldly asking him if we could take a peek at his room.  I'm sure he thought that we were nuts - at least I hope he thought we were only nuts.  He did agree and graciously opened his room door for us.  He introduced us to his wife, who was a little startled that he was bringing two women to their room.  The room was lovely.  It was prettily decorated with a love seat and puffy wing chair.  The four poster bed was tucked under the eaves.  His wife told us that each room in the hotel was decorated differently, but that all were nice and cozy.  We thanked the pair of them and them still giggling, over our adventure made our way back down the stairs and out to the street.
     My Sunday School teacher once said, "Walking into a barn doesn't make you a horse.  Walking into a garage doesn't make you a car.  Walking into church doesn't make you a Christian."  Well, walking into the Red Lion Inn did not make Mary or I, guests at that hotel.  We were just trespassers.  We had no real presence there.
     So often, that is how we go about our lives.  We are not even paying guests, with rights and responsibilities.  We are just visitors.  We are not fully present.  Our minds are elsewhere.  We sit at the family breakfast table thinking of all that we have to do when we get to work.  We don't pay attention to the children or even to the spouse who is right there beside us.  When we talk to someone, we are thinking of what we will say next.  When we are at church, we are thinking, "I hope the service isn't too long.  I have a lot to do today."  We never enjoy the moment by being fully present in it.
     In Luke, we read about Jesus visiting the home of Mary and her sister, Martha.  Martha had the opportunity to sit like Mary at the feet of Jesus, but instead she allowed herself to be distracted from what was truly important.
     When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, He asked the disciples to pray with Him.  Instead, they fell asleep.  They were there, but not present.
     In 1 Kings 19,  God told Elijah-
"Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD,
for the LORD is about to pass by."
Then a  great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and
shattered the rocks before the LORD,
but the LORD was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake,
but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake came a fire,
but the LORD was not in the fire.
And after the fire came a gentle whisper, a "still, small voice."
     Sometimes I need reminding that I need to live by being present in the moment God has given me.  I need to pay attention to that still, small voice.
     This post is Day 11 in the 31 Day Series: Welcome to My Mess.  You can read the other posts here.

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