I woke a few minutes before my clock radio.  I rose and walked down the hall toward the stairs.

I pause.  Out of the window north I see as I’ve seen before, but this morning I pause, notice, and wonder what is the story in that apartment.  It’s a block away.  A large empty lot intervenes, clearing the way for my eyes.  It’s a generous line of sight this upstairs northward view gives.  The apartment is dark just as are most at this time of morning.  On the streets very few people yet.  

I creak my way down the stairs.  16 steep steps.  Midway my view changes.  Through the window above our front door I now see across the street.  That house is also dark but it is always dark.

Last week when John and Betsy stayed a few days on Arsenal I learned that Mrs. Williams once lived in the house.  John told me that he knew her.  Often stopped to visit. Regularly helped with the kind of things an elderly woman living alone could not do for herself.

Mrs. Williams no longer lives in that house nor in this world.  The house is dark.

Some say that the world too is dark. At five on a winter morning, yes.  Moving beyond a literal sense, this world can be painted dark or light.  Depending on the viewer.

What do we expect to see?

This week I’ve resumed reading Phil Needham’s book When God Becomes Small.  I am reading where he says “we do not expect to encounter God, and therefore we usually do not.”  It is so when, Phil points out, we become distracted from the ‘all-important now’.  

One of my favorite set of lines is John Keble’s:

If on our daily course our mind, be set to hallow all we find, new treasures yet of countless price, God will provide for sacrifice.”

At that second line, usually quietly with my lips barely moving, I believe I experience an actual sharpening of my powers of awareness.  Everything and anything POPS!  

“…be set to hallow all we find…” 

is my psychic coffee.

The 5 o’clock bus.  What is the story of the opening of its door at the corner of our block, eastbound?  I hear it from my bed upstairs, before I look out of my first window for the day.  The hydraulic hiss of the lowering bus accompanies the recorded woman’s voice announcing the purpose of its stop. Someone gets on this bus every morning.  I am guessing to work.  That it’s a long trip with a transfer ahead.  It will be a long day for that man (let me make a man of him in my imagination, invited aboard by the woman’s voice).

This morning I have surprised the bus and the woman’s voice.  I am downstairs making coffee.  As I measure out scoops I hear the eastbound Arsenal bus, a hiss, the proclamation.  Then the bus roars away.

It carries a story.  

I live in a place surrounded by stories.  We call this place the city. 

how it looks this morning, the house of Mrs. Williams