This is one of my favorite places on the planet. Those of you from DC, who have the privilege of knowing the Mahrs, know this as the swing at their home in MD. For those of you not in DC or who don’t know the Mahrs (why don’t you?!) let me tell you about them.
I met the Mahrs at small group shortly after moving to DC. My then roommate and I would go to Mark and Julie’s (love Mark and Julie!) house every Wednesday. Bill Mahr is one of the best men on the planet, kind and quiet, very nurturing and will sit and talk to you for hours – making life seem manageable again. I remember talking to him on the train one day back in February about what the heck I was going to do with my life… He has become like a father in DC to me. Annie is your eccentric Tennessee Southern bell – who always has a story to tell. She is welcoming and inviting, her home always open. Annie can ignite a room and though she calls herself introverted (still don’t believe you Annie), she enjoys seeing the heart of people.
Bill and Annie became my small group leaders a year and a half ago (right?). I miss them terribly. Their home in MD is my oasis in DC, my break from the city, my chance to be a country girl again (which I really am at heart!). They had counseled me through pain and joy; we’ve celebrated and cried together. Annie taught me how to stew a chicken and, in some ways, helps me remember the joy of hospitality that marked my grandmother. I remember pulling down vines and getting dirty clearing the bushes at their home, more and more I long for the simple life there against the chaos of DC.
Their porch swing is amazing. Especially on a foggy morning, when you can’t see past the edge of the porch but can hear someone walking on the road in a lazy, unhurried way that only happens in the country. I have spent many hours reading (sleeping), writing and praying there. It is in times of uncertainty that I think of that porch swing and wish to sit on it. It is a place of peace I used to attribute back to the ranch, but had lost in the years since we’ve moved. It is so precious to have a place of calm that is not denied to you, that really exists and if I could just tap my shoes three times I would be there now, sitting with Annie and Bill, telling them about this crazy Rwandan adventure over a nice pitcher of sangria…
The Mahrs love people for who they are – deep down. It might be someone you had forgotten was there beneath the years of pain and fear and disappointment. But, they find the person you are beneath all the pretence and say, ‘hello friend, come sit with me.’ I don’t know if I will ever be able to tell Bill and Annie what they have done for me, what they have met in my life, especially right before I left DC when things were so hard and I felt like a displaced rag doll – they let me escape to their home, and the porch swing, and helped me feel that there was a purpose in the chaos.
So, to Bill and Annie let me just say thank you.