Mulling over a problem, I find myself gazing at a picture hanging by my desk:
an old photograph my grandmother pasted onto blue construction paper, framed, and once had decorating her bedroom: a picture of her house after a snowfall, taken I don't know when, but long ago. It's from the street, looking up a snow-covered drive flanked by frosted, leafless linden trees, toward the house: on the left a white three-story barn, with an open door big enough to drive into, and connecting, on the right via a hallway, to a white three-story house.
In the frame below the picture is a blessing, author unknown, cut from a magazine, I suppose, and pasted in:
“God bless the walls that hold this house, God bless the warmth within,
God bless the doors that open wide to stranger and to kin,
God bless each shining window pane, God bless the roof above,
And keep all those who enter here safe within His love.”
Eyes glazing, I am there, disappearing from here, into the picture: it is snowing hard and night's approaching; I'm wading through drifts up the drive; the barn's gaping mouth swallowing me. Stomping off snow I see firewood stacked, waiting, against a wall. I take an armful, knowing she'll be needing it, and turning into the hall, entering by the kitchen's back door, out of the dark, blessing the light, the warming flames crackling in the fireplace, the room smelling of apples and cinnamon, pies on the table cooling: my grandmother's kitchen welcoming me home.
What I know of loving begins in that kitchen: no formal lessons, just observing actions, watching my grandmother loving and caring, caring for her sister as she lay dying and her father-in-law through his aging, caring for her husband and her only child—my mother—and, above all else, loving her grandchildren. Her home is my home, her meals my meals, her love my love, unconditional loving, all given to me. Picturing, drawing me back to a place, I don't know when, but long ago, and life is safe, life is sane, life is loving, and loving is life.