It was September 3, 1997, the first day of school. I arose at daybreak, wanting to be sure to have sufficient time to make special lunches, tailored to the likes of each child, lunches packed with the care and love only a mother could provide. I would miss the kids for a second or two as they headed off to begin a new year in school. As I labeled each bag and lined them up along the kitchen counter, I heard the back door open. What to my wondering eyes should appear but a man, a naked man, carrying only a towel, a small towel, but one large enough to quickly cover things that were not meant for my innocent eyes. Doug, our tree house dweller, apparently had made his way across the backyard, in his birthday suit. Why would it matter that it was his un-birthday? He was headed upstairs for his morning shower. I am guessing he didn’t think anyone else in the house would be up that early. Or, knowing Doug, it didn’t really matter to him if anyone else was up. You see, Doug was sort of a naturalist, a tree hugger who snacked on seaweed , drove a Subaru Justy filled with rotting fruit, and had a special fondness for the moistness of the morning dew.
Doug entered our life through a “Wrinkle in House Church”. House Church was a fifth dimension of people who gathered weekly in one another’s homes for prayer and scripture reflection. Their thoughts could have been the substance for SNL’s Jack Handy. They took scripture reflections to new depths. All I could think about during these times was “Jesus loves me this I know because the Bible tells me so”. Our Havertown neighbors surmised we’d become entangled with a cult. In retrospect, who could blame them? House Church in Havertown is comparable to Modern Family meets the Cleavers.
One warm summer evening, as House Church gathered on our deck, Doug expressed his desire for a back-to-nature lifestyle. My husband kiddingly offered our tree house to Doug. The rest was history. Unbeknownst to us, within days, he took up residence there. When you are getting six kids ready for school, who has time to notice who is living with the squirrels in your backyard? Little did I know, the naked guy slipping through our kitchen that September morning would be living with us for the next two years.