Hope’s Kitchen Window

The kitchen window conjures up images for me of looking peacefully out into one’s immediate world, watching birds at the feeder or snow gently falling. You might catch a glimpse of deer coming through in the evenings to seek out morsels from a garden. Perhaps if you live in a neighborhood you watch the neighbor children playing or maybe even your own. It’s carefree and meditative, warming and centering.

I do not have my own kitchen window to peer out into the world but I always find myself automatically gazing out of others’ when given the chance.

Recently I was at the kitchen window belonging to my friend, Hope. I was cooking in her kitchen to feed a community that was coming to help other dear friends who’d just lost their home to a devastating fire. As I looked through her kitchen window and over the fence to the burnt shell of the house I was overwhelmed by emotion, caught off guard. I have a long history with those people, with that house. I have decades of memories of them and their children, who when I first came to that place were aged one, three and five and are now in their mid-twenties. My first meal shared around their table was peanut soup eaten on the bench that sat along the backside of the small kitchen table where there was always room for one more. I witnessed the house grow three times its size with wood and craftsmanship, each nook bearing the fingerprints of love. I lived in their home, as did many others over the years who were in need of the physical and the emotional space they’d offer freely.

And on this day as I cooked and cleaned I watched the family through Hope’s kitchen window slowly picking through and salvaging what they could, to remember those years, to save some fingerprints. There were tears, so many tears.

But that wasn’t the only thing I saw.

I saw people. A growing gathering of people who carried charred treasures and wiped away those tears. I witnessed friends holding up this family with strong embraces that comfort and heal. I heard laughter, deep, meaningful laughter. And as I watched and listened and talked and fed I realized that what I saw through Hope’s kitchen window was indeed Hope.

Hope that seeps through the cracks of the darkest times.

Hope that carries you through the muck to get to the other side.

And they will be carried; of this I have no doubt.

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all.

Emily Dickinson

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