“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:16-17
Moving back into his dad’s house was humiliating enough but to add further ego injury to self-pitying insult, the old family pet, perhaps on its last proverbial leg, just chewed up his favorite running shoes. This was a “double-whammy” because he loved those shoes and while they literally took him everywhere their tattered remains reminded him how shredded and lifeless his life had become. He just couldn’t get it together and get his life off the ground especially with layoffs, constant cutbacks, and the collapse of his dreams and ambitions. His meager savings only went so far and although he was grateful, he had to face harsh reality and come back home where those dreams first took shape and give it another shot. His best bet, he thought, was to enroll in a local trade school and recreate himself. His father seemed to have been living in a parallel universe with similar but not equal issues brewing overhead like a threatening thunderstorm. “So close but so far” was the way he described his situation to the lifetime neighbors who would still listen. After raising two strong boys and a beautiful, talented daughter who had all moved out of that spacious homestead years before, he and his wife were just two years away from paying off the house and enjoying the future of retirement they had often discussed, even while they were dating. All that evaporated in a seemingly horrible flash of tragedy when she suffered a burst aneurysm. He had to refinance the home to help pay for the uncovered medical expenses and of course, her sad funeral which comprised, in his heart and soul, the longest day of his life.
Living together under the same roof was at times awkward and yet strangely comfortable. Both men were stubborn in their own way and didn’t really talk about their problems and struggles much. Their relationship was good at the present moment, but not great. It had been so wonderful growing up because it was like they were best friends. But at some tender, delicate point in the history of their family, the young son at sixteen suddenly discovered that he knew everything while his dad at midlife never seemed to receive enough thanks and gratitude for all the sacrifices he endured. These two men, who actually began to look a bit alike in these later years, drifted apart a bit which became painfully obvious when their wife and mother abruptly left them. And yet, as God would have it, they were a family again.
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:9-10
One night, in two different bedrooms of that lonely old house, two different self-conversations were taking place. The father longed to help his son but did not want to hurt his pride or back hand insult him in any way, shape or form. His son counted the situation as unfair for his dad to have to work so hard all over again after a very full life of tireless dedication accompanied by a loving heart that just would not stop giving. They both decided to do something quite heroic and selfless, like father – like son, but behind the scenes so as not to disrupt their father-son relationship which was slowly regaining ground and depth.
The local grocery chain needed graveyard employees to stock the shelves overnight to be ready for the onslaught of customers for the following day. They also needed early morning drivers to haul inventory to and from the warehouse right before the stores would open. Over the next seven months, the son would wait for his dad to get to bed, early as was his custom, then carefully leave to start the graveyard shift to stock the shelves. And like clockwork, an hour or so after he returned and tried to get some sleep before training school, his father quietly got up, made his coffee, pet and fed the dog, and drove away to haul inventory for about five hours every day except Sunday.
Midst this amazing scenario were at least two fascinating marvels: the first was how their little secret was so carefully guarded by them for each other, and how they never quite figured out how each month, the bank never called about the missing mortgage payment and the school never said anything about the expected mounting tuition and computer fees that had yet to be paid. It was funny in a way because both men had worked at that same location as teenagers and there they were again, many years apart, and traveling under the moonlit sky like two ships passing in the night. Even the familiar, uniform, loose-fitting, bright blue company shirts had not been altered over the years.
“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:14
As the seasons began their predictable moments of change and color, startling weather patterns emerged and brought unexpected bursts of thunderstorms one particular week. Although those who had called this place “home” were most accustomed to these dramatic climate mood swings, there were at least two who were not prepared. One particular gusting downpour caused momentary havoc at the store. The shelf-stocking son had been delayed and several trucks had been damaged by hail. This placed him much later than he realized to get home and get ready for school this time with no nap to revive him for the day ahead. “Thank God,” he thought, as there was a full moon to light up the drenched streets. His dad was right on time as he prepared for his day, perhaps unlike any other, and wondered why his son’s truck was already gone. And that’s when it happened. Out on the back patio, they met, one dry, one wet, both in loving astonishment for when they clapped eyes on each other, wearing that familiar uniform albeit cheaply embroidered with the store’s logo, they both immediately and simultaneously realized what had been going on for months. And with the gentle moonlight blessing their love and admiration for each other, they embraced and cried with any relatable words escaping them only to let the dawn slowly envelop them with the greatest discovery of this powerful force of wisdom and courage that would, from that moment on, ever shape their worldview, and respect that most fathers and sons could only imagine. Sometimes the hardest lesson to realize in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn. Both men decided to cross the bridge to each other and seek always to be at peace. Imagine a world where this is the rule and not the exception.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born and knows God.” John 4:7
Years have passed and the father has gone to meet his wife in their heavenly reward. Today that young man who finally got his act together has begun his own legacy of life and limb and with a wife and two young sons, his hands will be full. When they first bought their new home, miles away from his childhood neighborhood, he insisted on building an outdoor attached patio in the backyard. His wife and children understand what the back patio means and why their dad spends much-needed quiet time out there. Unquestionably, he insists on having all his most important conversations and moments outside on the back patio. It is almost a shrine and when anyone ever asks him why it’s so important, he loves to retell the story of how he found the greatest discovery under the moonlit sky after a refreshing rain. His new dog just stares and wonders why he keeps hiding his running shoes.
He loves to say that everyone needs a back patio.
Maybe he’s right.
Share your thoughts (50 thoughts)
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:7
50 thoughts on “Epiphany on the Back Patio”
Oh how I loved this story about LOVE! It reminded me of so many instances; a recent long conversation with one of our Sons after a tough breakup; another discussion with our Godchild about discerning the religious life; and of the best “one way conversations” with my Dad in his last days of Alzheimer’s. We’ve been blessed to have all three of our Sons home during the pandemic and are so thankful for this time of sharing, caring, debating and laughing. So many of these loving discussions happened on the back patio. Thank you for your beautiful story of love and sacrifice. Also for reminding us to stop and appreciate these shared moments.
What sweet music to our ears, Mary Ann! We are so very grateful to God that this particular episode of a life that involves an epiphany on the back personal patio has resonated with your current life situation and help resurrect other choice memories that make up the intricate fabric of our lives. We must find those places and spaces to usher in these moments of great depth and understanding otherwise we can yield to despair as so many do. These moments keep love in our hearts so that we may enjoy the richness of silence and then share those treasures with the most important people in our lives. God bless you and your husband, and those other three great men in your life.
God bless you always!☺️
Wonderful! New article released next week. Can’t wait to hear how you enjoy it!
I so look forward to your inspiring and beautiful articles! Can’t wait!
We should be announcing very soon! Have a very blessed weekend!
I thought this was a great story and well written —it’s so accurate and relatable. It reminded me of being in high school and working summers and Saturdays with my dad. I hated working with him cause the labor was tough. He thought I was there for the money but I was really there cause I hoped that by me showing up meant he had less “labor” to do by having a helping hand. Through the years I learned those were the best days of his work life for the sheer fact that we got to hangout on weekends or weeks at a time in the summer. Not to long ago I was driving home from the credit union and I heard a song I always heard while working with my dad and it brought back some good and bad memories of those painful summers with him but I was able to smile knowing we were both there for each other without ever really knowing it.
That was great, Nick, and thank you so much for taking the time first to read the article/blog post, and then spend some quality time reflecting on the message yourself and then writing something for all of us to read. Much appreciated! We are hearing from many readers that few have timely and cherished memories with their dads. You are blessed especially on that one note. Furthermore, your memory reveals that you have grown into a person who knows that sometimes love starts off a little selfish and then if fed and nourished with faith and morals, grows into choice freedom that allows you to love even more as your years increase. Every parent must learn to love and give without counting the cost or wait for a “thank you.” And although we must teach gratitude, some take longer than others to truly learn it and pass it forward. God bless you, Nick, and please keep reading and reflecting and responding!
This is everything my older brother and dad went through. Although my dad loves his daughter’s he always seems to lean towards my older brother. He misses him when he doesn’t attend family gatherings and makes the rest of us say.. “hey what about us”. Hahaha. I am forwarding this to my family. It’s so relatable. Thank you for this reflection.
Welcome, Laura to our pages and our little, growing community! What I have learned especially through the ongoing comments that we receive from these postings is that every relationship is so unique because each person is unique. Your older brother doesn’t have the relationships you have, and he neither has what you enjoy. But what you both have is what God has deemed necessary for your personal growth and a steady path back to Him through His son Jesus who was/is/ever shall be the Perfect Friend. Thanks so much for sharing. Keep reading!
Another beautiful reflection. So relatable to be sure. You have such a wayy of writing these reflections that I can imagine myself in the story., especially when you have chosen topics that are so prevalent in our lives these days. This reflection further shows us that complete dependence on God is needed daily and that the only thing that matters is love.
Brother, thank you again, not only for your comments and willingness to share your thoughts and encouragement with all of us today, but also for your constant and undying loyal prayers to Our Lord Jesus through His bLessed Mother to bring all people to the Word of God and find “rest for their souls.” You are so right in reminding us that “the only thing that matters is love.” You challenge and help us to imagine a world where that is the rule and not the exception. God bless you, Brother! Blessings for the journey ahead!
Another wonderful written story of relationships, love, and sacrifice. The “back patio” could be in so many different places for so many of us and depending on where we are in our lives, too. Growing up we moved way too much, but the patio I remember distinctly was my Grandpa’s front patio. It’s the place we all knew, it was a place we had our talks, good and bad. It was a place where we showed love and sacrifice. Some of us got the”talks of our life”, some of us just had talks that lasted forever, but above all they were all talks of “love”. The love I hope we are all sharing during this pandemic.
My hope for everyone is that they create a “back patio” (kitchen table, walk to the park, walk by the beach, etc) to have the talks with their loved ones about love, sacrifice, and relationships. God bless you City of Agape for these well written stories that bring light to the Gospel and to help us make connections in our everyday lives.
Thank you very much, Veronica, for your thoughts about the “back patios” of our lives and how they can take many shapes and forms! What you made very clear with your added personal references and examples, is that all of us need that place to go where we can find God and His will for us and then the courage to face whatever crosses and obstacles that are inevitably and providentially presented to us to help forge and form the true people that we were created to be. We are so very happy that these posts have helped bring light to your life by means of the Gospel and the love of Jesus, the Word Made Flesh. God bless you, Veronica, and all those who share the back patios of your life!
This was such a well-written story that I had to read it twice and twice my heart filled beyond the brim with what I can only describe as the Love of the Holy Spirit making His presence known. Your words are beautiful and when placed into the context to which you have penned them, makes them so much more meaningful and graceful.
I remember many “back porches” in my younger days, yet never fully realized the importance or true meaning behind those certain situations in my life until the moments were gone. It is sad but sometimes we never realize the sacrifices others make for us or that we make for others and simply go on with our lives in a blind fashion. The truth is, that there is a deeper meaning, which your story so beautifully points out, to it all. That truth is love.
In fact, its the first thing I read. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
So here is my back porch. And God built it. It is all around me. It is in my heart, mind, and soul if I choose it to be. And God placed everything I need on this porch. He placed people, pets, plants, and birds. And so much more that I could not list them all. But most importantly, he put me and His love on this porch. Similar to the father and son in your story, I did not see how great His sacrifice, that He gave his one and only Son, was until much later. And when I see His love for us, I see the love between a father and son, a husband and wife, and between close friends. It’s a wonderful feeling indeed, to be on that back porch. Today, I find my most wonderful moments are on a “back porch”, either in prayer or with family and friends, but always knowing how great His love is. In these trying times, it is important to remain focused and remember the sacrifices we make for each other. Remember the love we have for each other. And live in the greatest love of all, God’s love. For one day, we will all go before Him and He may well ask, “So, what did you do with the Love that I gave to you?” I hope to say that I spent it all on that “back porch”, spreading as much as I could, sacrificing all that I had, just to be here with You.
You are giving me another “back porch” with your stories. And I truly love them. God Bless You!
While in graduate school many years ago in the Eternal City of Rome, my buddies and I would often take alternative routes walking back from the university to our dormitory. My favorite adventurous path (which also included remarkable hand-held pizza slices) was to walk around the Coliseum, then past the Roman Forum, finally reaching the Capitoline Hill where a great and noble bronze statue of Marcus Aurelius stood, ready to march into battle, I would imagine. There was an unobtrusive, unassuming, almost unnoticeable plaque that had been covered up with soot and maybe even a few wildly growing weeds, that apparently was a quote from the great emperor and because we were classic young men always in a hurry I never got a chance to really look at it until years later when I went back for a visit and was able to stroll alone at my own pace throughout that great city. I cleaned it up a bit and read nusquam refugium tranquillius nisi in anima, which I would render with some of my Latin still intact, there is no better refuge of complete peace than in one’s own soul. That’s what I have read in your wonderful response to “Epiphany on the Back Patio.” Not only do we need to find those back porches/patios, but also protect them and then share them with like-minded family, spouses, and friends. And outside of the Tabernacle, that is where God is, where He listens, and where He laughs with us. I am so glad you enjoy these posts. You have helped others release their memories and desires to see the world with much more clarity, especially in the present moment. God bless you, too.
This is such a beautiful story about struggle, family, and love. Especially during these struggling times..
I loved seeing two different struggles and how they were both seeking to help without overstepping. It just shows the extent of love and respect they have for one another.
Thank you so very much for your loving reaction to “Epiphany on the Back Patio”! I am so glad that you enjoyed the read and made the thoughts behind the story applicable to these unprecedented times where the fear and pandemic of the virus is worse than death itself. I find it remarkable that you noticed the element of “overstepping” in the day to day management of all of our relationships. Perhaps we can address that one particular element in the coming posts. God bless you, A.G.! May your days be blessed!
Beautiful story! I think about all the conversations I have had on my Dad’s back porch since my Mom passed and where memories are being made. I have had laughter and tears on this little porch. Keep the stories coming!
Awesome, Gabriel! Your words will no doubt resonate with many of readers who are presently in grief mode and traveling back and forth, up and down the stages of loss of the ones we love have loved so much in this world. The “back porch” of our lives also serves as a venue and portal to release and articulate the deepest of thoughts and feelings where we can be safe and heard. I am so glad that you have found yours.
Having six brothers competing for our father’s attention as we grew up I was touched by the depth of parent/child love. At some point during childhood I learned not to compete for my father’s attention and just roll with love of family. I believe this was the grace of God as I watched my father interact with his father with kindness and patience. Those profound moments observed quietly were patio moments of faith formation.
Welcome back, Tony, and thank you for that deeply personal and richly insightful response, the kind of which we have come to love, admire, and actually expect from you! What you have reminded our readers and me is that each person is like a unique plant that the Great Gardener takes divine care and loving assistance to bring to full bloom and potential. We must all find that “back patio” to discover our own specific singularity and then, and only then, have those meaningful, forgiving, healing, and moments of clarity that make life worth living. God bless you and see you next time!
After reading “Freedom at 5:11” I anxiously awaited for the next article…and “Epiphany On The Back Porch” did not disappoint!
It was an inspiring story of a relationship, sacrifice, and love. Anyone reading this can relate to someone. For me, it was my father. A hard working man who sacrificed A lot and taught us love as he sat in our living room with his opened Bible. And of course our RELATIONSHIP with our God, The Father; Who LOVED the world that He gave us His only Son; Who SACRIFICED His life for us. We must all love one another just as Christ loves us!
You are more than kind, Julie for your generous and kind words about our posts here at CityOfAgape. Many of us are happy that we could bring these moments of clarity to you, your family, and so many others. It is likewise remarkably and crystalline clear that your father’s example has had a deep and long-lasting effect on you and those around you, especially those you love. I enjoyed how you pointed out that our relationship with God our Father does in fact affect all of our relationships and when that one particular affinity and alliance is in right order, it seems the entire world is manageable. Thank you for “raising the bar” for the quality of our writing here. I pray that our next post will not disappoint as you found “Epiphany on the Back Patio.” God bless you always, Julie!
Heartwarming story of love and how giving of ourselves and supporting one another – sharing God’s love- comes back to and remains with the giver a hundred fold.
Thank you, Sylvia for your comments. You reminded me of that wonderful quote from Vitor Hugo who wrote in “Les Miserables,” To love another person is to see the face of God. Here is wishing you a marvelous weekend and many glimpses of God’s wonderful countenance.
Yeshua came to earth.
He had to come in at some door.
I think of the door as “The Gate.”
The patio is the path for fellowship
The Father and Son are the family home.
The steps I take is “Love!”
Thank you for this message today.
It showed me that i do remember.
Welcome back, Lorraine, and thank you for that marvelous poetic representation of your reaction to our latest posting! My favorite line of your response is, “The patio is the path for fellowship.” That was great! Friendship with others who also love Jesus is crucial for growth, maturity, and real sanity! The Lord is truly walking among these pages and insights and it is a great blessing to behold. Thank you for all your prayers and Scriptural encouragement. Let us remain with hope in the family Home of our Loving God.
This is a wonderful story of how relationships and sacrifices and love intertwine throughout life. I feel that if love is truly present in a relationship, any relationship, then the sacrifices come from the heart. Parents often sacrifice for their children to ensure well being. As parents age, it is the children who do the sacrificing to make sure their parents needs are met as they get older. Husband and wife sacrifices may be a little different, for couples need to truly love one another so as not to feel as if they are being taken for granted. For married couples, I think most sacrifices are an act of true love.
God bless you, Denise, and thanks for visiting with us this fine day! Your specific thought about being taken for granted is spot on! So many times, we do not realize the sacrifices and love that go into every kind of life-giving relationship and unfortunately some go the way of discarded memories and troubling feelings of regret and resentment. Only in the Lord can we find the freedom to speak our hearts and listen with the same intensity that He listens to and loves us. Where is the fine line between acting without concern for repayment and giving with responsibility and avoiding the perception that we are teaching ingratitude when we accept behavior we simply do not deserve? Let us pray for wisdom during these days as we search for and spend time in our own “back patio.”!
Oh my goodness, what a beautiful story! I firmly believe that every single one of us carries a back patio in our heart, whether it be in the setting of a kitchen table, or any other setting, for that matter. A back patio story we cling to when our soul needs an extra dose of love, hope, compassion, and nostalgia. Indeed, a very beautiful and inspiring article!
Greetings in the Lord Jesus, Sandy! Thank you so very much for your comments and contribution to the “back patio” discussion. I like your nuance about actually carrying that space within our hearts so that we can go there at a moment’s notice and in a time of immediate need and want. It reminds me of the phrase, “moveable feast,” since you can take it anywhere. May you also experience an extra dose of love, hope, compassion and nostalgia in the greatest possible way!
For the last few months I have been spending up to 2 hours each evening on my back patio praying the rosary, reading and praying evening prayer along with watching the birds and feeling the breeze. I just put up a 10×10 screened tent/sanctuary…great encounters with the “Father” on my patio! This one hit home!
Welcome back, Father David! Those moments on your newly-constructed “back patio” sound just great. Many of our readers have mentioned that we all truly need a “back patio” and you have certainly have re-created yours. For our readers who wish to follow Father’s online Life in the Spirit Seminar, please go here: https://www.facebook.com/david.hemann.5
God bless you, Father David! Pray for us!
Thank you for this timely reflection.
What a beautiful example of agape love!
The father and son’s love for one another was a pure, willful, sacrificial love that intentionally desired one another’s highest good.
Love = Sacrifice. Sacrifice = Love.
We must strive for that perfect love in our lives.
The spiritual citizens of the City of Agape truly love your equation, Annelise! Love = Sacrifice. Sacrifice = Love. We will take upon our shoulders the challenge you have lovingly presented to us today to strive for that perfect love in our lives. God bless you and all your family, Annelise!
The overwhelming circumstances the world has found itself in when all seem to seek a place of refuge (back patio) to sit with someone, who dares to love, understand, embrace and be gentle and respectful of our wounds, is a luxury this time and age.
Thank you for helping us to return to the father’s specious house, wherever that place might be. May that “back patio “ heal our confused and emotionless times. May we have the courage and enough honesty to cry over the paradise of lost dreams, meaningless accomplishments, betrayed relationships and empty hearts. Only in God we can find that “back patio” and only in Him we can regain strength to dream again in a new reality.
Thank you very much, Father, for furthering the insights and linking the “back patio” with a place of refuge and strength. You remind us how important our friends and family are to be helpful, and, here is my favorite line, and to “embrace and be gentle and respectful of our wounds.” That was simply brilliant. I pray our readers will find in those words the same comfort and promise of hope which I did. God bless you always!
Loved this story and the meaning behind it. Very important to not let things blind us from our true path and always have faith God will lead us into the right direction. Was very happy with this story and great read before bed this evening.
Gabriel, welcome back, and thank you for your comments today. There are many things, especially in these unprecedented times with panic, fear, and the pandemic, that could blind us to the beauty and light of this world. Thank you for reminding us to see beyond the darkness and find the light. God bless you today and always!
“So close but so far” This story is a beautiful example of the power of love, and its overwhelming power to supersede the intangible . I especially enjoyed the father and son aspect.
Love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction.
Great insights, Daniel. We are all very appreciative of the time you took in responding to this article. One of the common threads we have been hearing from our readers is that to make a good relationship even better, expression of even the heavy and unpleasant frustrations of life within any relationship should be healthy if expressed and received with the right frame of mind and shape of the heart. I believe others will benefit from your statement, “Love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction.” God’s blessings upon you, Daniel!
This is so real in so many ways in many families. Forgiveness doesn’t have to be said, however, showed.
I truly enjoyed this article.
We are all so glad you enjoyed this post, Mari! Your statement that “Forgiveness doesn’t have to be said however showed,” does raise the issue that at times even though people say they are sorry or express forgiveness, it doesn’t always make it to the surface. Actions speak louder than words and we all realize that our thoughts become our words, our words become our actions, our actions become our personality, and that becomes our destiny. God bless you, always, Mari!
What a powerful story of love and respect for each other. I’m sure it was very hard on both of them but they went forward with the help of Jesus Christ and finally knew the power of their love and belief without making the other one feel inadequate. Praise God for he is the answer.
Hello again, Leona! Trusting in the Lord Jesus and remembering His remarkable and self-giving sacrifice on the cross does tend to place everything in perspective, especially our problems which become overwhelming at times. We could derive from your comments that we are inadequate with the Lord because he makes all things new again. Thanks again, Leona! Continue to enjoy the blessings of summer.
This is a beautiful story. I learned the hard way as a teen that if you let go of selfish needs and wants, God will always love you. I owe my life to Him and look to Him for guidance through good and bad times. God is eternal.
Truer words could not have written! It is a great moment when we learn how to let go of self, embrace God, then love one another as He has loved us. Thank you for your wonderful comments!
Having missed out on a father-son relationship because I never met my dad, this story makes me envious of the relationship in this story. The selflessness of both men and the endeavor to keep their act a secret from the other was a noble and loving gesture. This was a very moving story about love and the things we can do as a result of loving unconditionally.
Hello and the Lord’s blessings upon you, Ron! Thank you for your comments. Many of our readers have personally expressed similar longings that you have and it is simply both courageous and healing to do so. What we can all learn from the example found in “Epiphany on the Back Patio” is that even though we may not have had a personal experience treating and teaching us in this loving manner, we can always learn how to imitate and initiate it. This is called the power of the Gospel and it is ours for the taking. God bless you, Ron!