Monday, October 31, 2011

Thanksgiving Month, Day 31: The Purple Chairs

This month is supposed to be about people, so won't you sit with me for a moment?

One of the most deeply loved spots in the TH is the fireplace, with its antique leather-embossed card table and, on each side, the two purple chairs.
The purple chairs in a corner for a reception:
anywhere in the TH is their comfort zone!

If these chairs could talk ...

       They would tell of sisters sharing a pot of Tiger Hill tea and exchanging remembrances of their Mum

       Of two friends sipping on iced lattes with a box of Kleenex nearby

       Of a beautiful woman quietly knitting

       Of a first date, where the tea basket is brought over to break the ice -  and then, the next weekend, of a second date

       Of a minister meeting to counsel someone in pain

       Of two senior people, freshly in love, singing a hymn together just before walking down the aisle as husband and wife

       Of a husband and wife who have found a babysitter for an hour, sharing a dessert and a little time with each other late on a Sunday evening

       Of a dad drinking tea with his girl, completely present to her in her world

       Of my Dad sitting in one of them each Wednesday night sharing insights from God's word the Bible

       Of a widow, suddenly alone, taking a moment to step away from their family at the lunch table, to sit, to reflect and to gird herself for her beloved's funeral

       Of a young mother bringing her son in for his first lesson in public table manners ("now, don't forget to say thank you to Miss Karyn!")

       Of a couple whose life is falling down around them, sharing a pot of tea, saying nothing verbally but their eyes speaking despair and love despite it all

       Of one of the first preteen girls ever to come here, sitting by herself with her Jones soda untouched and with her head resting on the table, later writing in my guest book, "Today was misruble. I hope tomorow is better"

The chairs are moved around the TH quite a bit when we have private functions  - we usually try to set them up in a quiet corner and without exception people gravitate to them wherever they may be.

People come and go through Nilgiris and so the chairs see a steady rotation. But there is one person who became my friend through sitting in those purple chairs and then had to move away, a friend with whom I wish to share the chairs this evening.

I would venture to say that she loves those purple chairs more than almost anyone except for me does.

When one of them broke and we had to use its substitute cousin, a burgundy armchair exactly the same in shape and fabric but not the purple chair, she felt it deeply. I thought fleetingly that it was a snapshot of her life at the time - broken, needing to be set aside for a while until it could be mended.

Someone else had suggested that I retire the purple chairs and simply use the burgundy pair. But you don't just discard something you love and that has been of such meaning to you and to so many others. You set it aside for a while and let it rest and take a moment to figure out how to repair the splintered wood, how to brace the frame, how to stretch the fabric to cover the fraying edges.

And then, when you have a plan, you take as long as it takes to restore that loved item. You entrust it to the hands of someone with the skill and the patience and the appreciation for its value and its place in the overall scheme of things.

My friend understands all that. And though she is no longer one of the active occupants of the purple chairs because she now lives too far away, she still takes a deep interest in what goes on here. She still cares about the little TH and about me.

I had forgotten that she didn't know the chair was back until I read a note from her last week after she saw a picture of the chairs:

you fixed that purple chair!!! oh! i wish i could hug it...

i wish i could hug you. :)

K, "my K," I call her. We met by chance and then late one weekday afternoon she came over for a latte and we started to place the first stitches into the needlepoint of our friendship. We had no design planned out, no pattern to follow. We just knew that, as we settled deep into the purple chairs, we could speak and cry and laugh and be safe, and any stitches we placed would somehow work into a tapestry of beauty and memory. 

More than anyone else, my K is the living picture of my injured purple chair. The weight of the sadness she has had to bear has caused her to groan under its force. She has splintered in a couple of places. She has had to retreat for a while, sketching out a plan of how best to continue.

She has entrusted herself to the hands of Someone with the skill and the patience and the appreciation for her value and her place in the overall scheme of things. 

Someone who has been broken Himself and whose own hands bear the scars of nails that have been hammered into them and who knows the value of those nails, the worth of those scars.

And the result is a stronger, more stable chair, able to withstand weight and time and kids drumming their legs against its legs; and teenagers curled up shoeless and cross-legged, giggling and sharing confidences; and husbands and wives reaching across the table to link fingers and strengthen each other's hearts.

Oh, if you look closely you will see the head of a nail in an odd place here, a tiny metal plate screwed in there, a few extra stitches, a couple of inches of unvarnished wood.

But this chair is one of the most cherished treasures in the TH to me. I can't imagine the place without it.


  1. how can i ever write what you mean to me? i can't. there aren't enough words.

    but seeing that chair i like to think of as mine:) gramma's tea cup and saucer, reading what you can see in my life when i can't? you are a treasure to me and i am so thankful that even if i am sitting on my red couch with a cup of earl grey in my hand, a box of kleenx nestled in close and a thousand miles away, my heart is there, kept safe.

    you bring me home with every post. and with every post, i grow more thankful for you.

    love to you, dear friend.


  2. Hey - don't knock Earl Grey! That would be the beverage to be found in the tea cup next to your gramma's - which is my Mum's ... xo

  3. What a beautiful post. Not just because my picture is in it, or my wee girl for that matter, but because so much of your heart is in it. Very sweet.

  4. This is a beautiful blog and you are a beautiful person who has touched many people. I am sorry I have not been there lately. Know we think of you lots and your Goddaughter prays for you a lot. Whenever she asks for you its a week day and then I get caught up in life. There are no excuses. Sometimes life happens and suddenly I wake up and realize it has been months and I have not let someone very important know their worth. With that realization I have felt too awkward to come by after time has passed. Reading this post brought back so many dear moments at the TH that gave me sanity and solace. God gave you magnificent gifts. I will come by soon. I hope you can accept my apologies because you are still very important despite the lack of time present. I'm glad I found this- I was looking for a way to reconnect. Thank God for blogs right:)

  5. I love those chairs....
    Ha, Jeremy and I were one of those couples who shared first dates there (counting quarters to split a strawberry cheesecake and pot of roibois). And I have been there alone; both when he's been called away to work, and when I've called myself away from him.
    And could it be that it was this young mom with her (still so far from) gentleman son one afternoon? (there's a blog post of my own coming up on that one ;) )

    Beautiful chairs. Beautiful space. But the fact known by us all is that it has been made beautiful by your care, attention, service, heart, time, and kindness.

  6. Thank you for a month of inspiring posts. I looked forward to reading them each day with Chloe. As I start my Thanksgiving month in November, know that you Karyn are on the top of my list of people to be thankful for. Looking forward to seeing you in India in the spring. Sarah

  7. Thank you, all of you. KMarie, you need to get over here with my god daughter - if I'm around during the week, you're more than welcome to come then! Wil, some of my most blessed moments lately have been sitting by myself in a purple chair listening to your music, a profound blessing to me. Deannadyck, you know it! And Sarah, my dear friend so far away ... one day I hope and pray that you will sit in the purple chairs with me and we can talk for at least a day without interruption! xo


I love to hear from you! Please leave me a leaf to read ...