“I remember it as October days are always remembered, cloudless, maple-flavored, the air gold and so clean it quivers.”
For as long as I have lived, I have been given no choice but to associate the aromas of a skillful kitchen, the glow of lamplight, and the bustle of rambling houses with a voracious appetite for truth, dialogue, laughter, living, the joy of the Lord and the hope of Heaven. The hours have surely added up to years – that were spent lingering around the table or crowding into the living room to talk and tell stories and travel along the conversational paths that trek through the stuff that makes real life tick.
For nearly as long as I have lived, I have dreamed of someday planting my life and my family in the midst of some well-worn estate, with porches that never end, rooms that tumble one into another, a library tinted with stained glass light, and a kitchen table that stretches across time zones. Here we would welcome inquiring students, heroic weather-worn missionaries, skeptics, a small herd of grandchildren, and pretty much…well, any of you that want to come. We will eat and drink and study and talk and sing and laugh and refresh ourselves for the journey by reminding each other of our destination and of the deep joys along the way.
This place of my dreams has been mentally crafted by living images of places I have been, places I wish I’d been, and places where I’ve actually lived in the undeniable reality of imagination. The Place is a magical hybrid of The Eagle & Child, Zion Hill Bible Conference, L’Abri, Saint Annes, the old baptist parsonage on Church Street in Merrimac, Massachusetts, and various journeymen’s stops on the roads of Middle Earth like Bombadil’s cottage, Beorn’s Hall, or the Last Lonely House at Rivendell. If you have never heard of some of these holy places, then you know all the more why I’d love to invite you to a place, that these and many others have birthed in my dreams and determinations.
Well, my desires are no secret to the Lord; so for the time being we will continue to learn and laugh and love and linger around the feast, in the golden glow of Shorey Hall on Cooper Circle.
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In the 50′s and 60′s, the country estate in the photo above was a hilltop rest home in Northfield, New Hampshire, run by a genuinely kind-hearted, Miss Eastlack. In the 70′s and 80′s this extraordinary place, set at the top of Zion Hill Road, housed the Zion Hill Bible Conference and (expanded to 42 rooms) was visited by the most extraordinary teaching and Christian fellowship that I have ever experienced. Much of the year it was where I lived with my mom and dad and husky beagle – in a place big enough to hold a village. The blisters (driving nails), the sporadic bustling crowds, the aimless wandering, the tastes of heavenly worship, the books read in a thousand hidden corners, and so much else – were all good.