Virtual Voices

The not-so-pearly gates

Faith & Inspiration

My oldest daughter and I are visiting family in Maine this month and decided the other day that we would use the rainy day to go find the home of author Stephen King in Bangor. Driving through the winding, hilly, curving roads of Route 1A, we hit town about 11 in the morning and proceeded to feel our way toward his house.

A realtor I ran into earlier in the week told us his house was on Ohio Street, so after much ado, we exited Route 1A, turned left on Union Street, which turns into Ohio, passing Bangor Theological Seminary on the left and driving straight up the hill, each of us peering out our respective windows, looking for King's tell-tale bat covered wrought-iron gate that we'd seen in a children's ABC book about Maine. (He's under K, by the way.)

It all seemed a go. My cousin told us his house was on the hill up from Bangor, and since we were moving uphill at about 55 mph on Ohio Street, we were surely on the right path. That is, until we drove far into the countryside where the scenery turns from beautiful, well-preserved Maine homes to those of the trailer variety, and realized, Stephen King would not live out here.

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Back we went. Down the hill, past the seminary, my daughter calling my son at home to have him Google King's address. Number one listing, Stephen E. King, age 60-64, wife, uh, Tab-ee-tha? Yep, that's the one. Now, MapQuest: 47 West Broadway. Got it. Off to Broadway. Go south until the street changes to State. Turn around in industrial area, go north, back to houses, each time, stopping every few feet for some of the longest lights I've ever experienced. House numbers go up to 890 before we quit. Turn around, getting hungry by now. Call Ben back. He has Emily turning the map this way and that, telling us to hold one hand at a northeast angle, then crossing the other at 90 degrees. Look for Cedar. See Hammond Park? We try. No park. No Cedar. Gosh I'm hungry.

Finally, we stop at a gas station. We are on the wrong Broadway. Two exits south on I-95, exit Union, go south, past Bangor Theological Seminary, just two blocks, go right, and yes, there is his house, bat gate and all. We are currently four blocks from where we exited Route 1A in the beginning, two hours ago. He was right here all along, not sequestered in a gated community on the outskirts of town, hidden away from obnoxious fans such as ourselves, but living in a beautiful, but not ostentatious, house, right smack dab in the middle of an ordinary neighborhood, probably making tea and plotting his next novel while we tramped all over Bangor proper hunting him down.

As a believer, I usually try to find God the same way I tried to find Stephen King. I listen to this person or that person, read a few books, wildly guessing which way He might be. I veer south, don't find Him, so veer north, head up hills into the hinterlands, come up empty, go back down, dial in for rescue, getting hungrier all the time. Finally, in frustration and only as a last resort, I ask for help, get directions, follow the road, and realize He was right there all along. In fact, I passed Him several times in my frenetic traipsing around town. When I finally locate Him, I recognize Him at once. He is just as some said He was and nothing like others claimed. Unpretentious, breath-taking, accessible, living amongst ordinary people, His gate not barred from hungry believers like me, but, on the contrary, swung wide, wide open.

Amy Henry
Amy Henry

Amy is a married mother of six and a WORLD correspondent from Kansas. Follow her other "scribbles" at Whole Mama or by reading her book Humpty Dumpty Just Needed a Nap: What Children’s Stories Teach Us About Life, Love, and Mothering. Follow Amy on Twitter @wholemama.

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