I wrote yesterday about my unsuccessful five-year search to find a “perch” here at our home in Franklin – a place for reflecting and resting and reading in the mornings. A place to look out from, with a bit of a view, but mostly a place that provides perspective. This morning, by random occurrence, I found myself sitting in a chair that I never sit in. It’s a great chair, a leather chair that sits in a certain corner of our Great Room. I bought it years ago because I wanted it to be “my” chair. Growing up, my father always had “his” chair – a HUGE and unashamed recliner complete with plaid pattern and a wooden pull lever – and anyone and everyone who visited our home was welcome to sit in that chair for just as long as he or she liked…until the moment my father walked in the room. It was never domineering, just always understood. That was Papa Lev’s chair. To this day I celebrate my father’s recliner as often as I possibly can (it’s seriously that comfortable – anything that large has to be that comfortable), but the very second my father walks in the room, even as a 36 year-old man I’m overcome with an anxious respect and awe that requires that I vacate immediately (unless I want to get a rise out of my Dad…which is a pretty good time in and of itself). And so I always looked forward to a chair of my own once I had a place of my own. Now, I knew that I couldn’t go the way of my father’s chair with its hyper-pronounced presence. I’m a little too fashion forward to stomach the overstuffed and oversized recliners of my father’s generation. And so, some 10 years ago, after a thorough and arduous search, I found the perfect chair to be “my” chair – contemporary without being modern, unassuming but very inviting. And though you’d NEVER know to look at it, hidden beneath its sleek brown leather exterior lies a deep and profound secret. It is indeed…a recliner. It’s a glorious chair. The problem with this chair has never been comfort, appearance, or glory. The problem with this chair has always been placement. It looks so beautiful where it sits – balancing perfectly the angles of the room with the color palate of the walls, artwork, and the very large deep red chenille sectional (sorry I’m getting so HGTV on you). But the corner that it sits in doesn’t really have a great view of the TV – there’s a bit of a glare from a certain set of windows – and it’s sort of set away from the other groupings in the room, so it’s not even the best for conversation. But man it looks good in that corner, so that corner is it’s home. And as a result, it has never proven to be the “my chair” that I always hoped it would be. I tend instead to have found an equally fulfilling, but very different experience “working the corner” (a phrase coined by my brother, Chris) of the sectional couch – no window glare on the TV, perfect angle for viewing and for conversation, and in perfect foot reach to the large leather ottoman/coffee table that sits in front of it. But amazing as working the corner is for watching TV, it’s no perch at all – no view out of any sort, no inspiring perspective. So I have tried in vain for years to find my perch in our home. As I wrote yesterday, our front porch is perfectly suited and often used, but it’s still a bit too cold out in the mornings to settle in this time of year. This morning though, I was up early, before Roshare or the boys. While roaming and pondering where to settle in to read Don Miller’s new A Million Miles, in an effort to pick up a few toys scattered around, I sat briefly in my old leather chair that has been so underused and lonely all of these years. And as I looked up, I was astonished to realize that I had missed this all this time. With the TV off, I noticed the early morning light making it’s way in through a set of east-facing windows across the room. These were the same windows that made the old brown chair horrible for watching TV because of the glare. But for reading, TV glare is not an issue, and in fact the view through those windows kept going – out over our little courtyard and into an open area of back yards and neighbors homes and through a break in the street to the next block over I could see rooflines and chimneys. Quite a place to look out from as it turns out. A new perspective to say the least. And so I sat and I gazed and I wondered at how odd to have missed this view for all these years. That in one moment, this chair was just something to pass by on my way somewhere, and in the next, it was a new vantage point, my perch.
After a good little while soaking in the morning, I finally opened Don’s book to a chapter that started with a simple and fairly passing phrase about the fact that his uncle had died this past year. I took it for what it was, everyone’s uncle dies, and moved passed it without much thought. But then Don, in the way Don does, brought perspective into play, he brought story into play, the story of his uncles life – his larger than life, life. And in a few brief moments I found myself drawn to this character, wishing I’d know him, wanting my life to look more like his. And as Don sweetly closed the chapter with the funeral of his uncle, I found myself deeply engaged, moved, and crying. All alone at the break of day, holding a book, and crying in my old brown leather chair.
It’s all about a vantage point…the right place to look out from. This old brown leather chair gave to me this morning that very thing. And so did my friend Don. And in those two things, an unused chair and an uncle I’ve never met – both passing thoughts just moments before, I found a new perspective that let me feel deep and beautiful things that I’ve not felt in quite some time. I’m thankful for that this morning. So thankful.