My Life

Front Porch Conversations

“If you could have lunch with one person who has died who would it be and why?” 
There are many people who have passed that I would like to sit with on a front porch, rocking slowly in two red adirondack chairs. We’ll shoot the breeze over some fresh-squeezed lemonade, my Great Grandma Weaver’s sugar cookies on a table between us, still warm from the oven.Red chairs
Like my Grandpa Baker whose stories slowly left his mind long before his body left this earth and before I truly understood the gift of his wisdom.
Like Robert Kennedy who still inspires me with his eloquent words and his passionate rhetoric. I picture his dog, Freckles, on the front porch, too. He’s enjoying a spot of sunshine and seems vaguely entertained by the squirrels dancing across the yard.
Like St. Francis of Assisi who was beloved by many including every animal on earth. He was like the Snow White of saints. But more than that, he seemed to get what living free in Christ was all about. I bet my front porch would be like a scene from Disney if Frances came over for a visit with birds and chipmunks and deer all sitting peacefully at our feet while we talked. Since it is my vision, the animals will speak as well adding fascinating insight about creation and the Creator and the disgusting behaviors of humans polluting their home.

Brennan Manning 1934 - 2013
Brennan Manning 1934 – 2013

But tonight if I had to choose one (other than Jesus, of course, because that is a given) it would be Brennan Manning, my favorite author and fellow ragamuffin. I’ve read almost every book Brennan wrote which numbers at 20 and own most of them as well.  They are well marked, highlighted and worn with multiple notes in the margin.
No author communicates the truth about grace more powerfully to me than Brennan.
No writer conveys the deep affection God has for me more convincingly than Brennan.
No leader calls out my false self more compassionately than Brennan.
No person challenges me to live free in Christ, beloved by God, and in fellowship with the Spirit like Brennan.
Brennan’s voice is the one I hear reminding me every day that I am God’s beloved.  That God not only loves me but that God actually likes me. God enjoys me. God delights in me. Brennan would quickly remind me that God likes me not because there is an ounce of good in me but because there is an abundance of goodness in Him.  What a humbling and freeing thing to remember.
Some days I really need front porch conversations with Brennan. I need him to remind me of all these things. Which he would do for an appropriate amount of time. And then he would kick my butt off the porch so I could go tell others.
Brennan died about two years ago. I never had the pleasure of meeting him in person.  But I meet him in his books. I read again his familiar words, pretending we are in red adirondack chairs on my big, wrap around front porch. The lemonade and cookies are there. Even the animals show up. And for just a few moments, we have a much-needed front porch conversation.
So, what about you, friend: if you could have lunch with one person who has died who would it be and why?


  • Gary Snowden

    In keeping with selecting an author, I’d go with Phillip Yancey for many of the same reasons you cite about Brennan Manning. Yancey’s strong, unwavering emphasis on the grace of God resonates well with me. In particular, I love his book, What’s So Amazing About Grace?

  • Deborah Walters

    Thanks so much for a encouraging reminder. I love Brennan Manning’s work, I so agree that he so gently called us to hope apart from our false selves. If I could have lunch with one would be C.S. Lewis for certain! I love him and the way captures our imaginations as they relate to eternal things and our relationship with Jesus. Lewis along with Manning ask us to dare to believe the Good News, despite the fact it seems too good to be true…they remind us that it is indeed true..and we are invited …and it is more given than gift!
    I appreciate your thoughtful, graceful , hopeful posts! Thanks! I hope you get to have lunch with someone you love soon.

    • Melissa Hatfield

      Deborah – C.S. Lewis would be a wonderful choice! What an uplifting and rich lunch experience that would be to share time and words with Lewis. So many amazing writers who have blessed others for generations to come by the gift of their vulnerable and hope-filled words. I’m thankful for each of them. Blessings!

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