My Portal To The Heavens

In front of the old house the tree used to stand.  Now, it was just the remains.  But the remains still stood.

It was just an old tree stump.  Oddly placed in front of the house.  But when I added my imagination it became a portal to the heavens.  

Upon it, I climbed, and stood.

I looked left.  I looked right.  To my left was the lane leading to the main road a quarter of a mile away.  It seemed like a very long road at the time.   To my right was a field that led to “the water”.   But I couldn’t see the water.  I could only see a pathway through the fields.

I stood upon my portal and I sang.   Loudly.   “When the saints come marching in”.

I looked to my right.   I belted out “oh when the saints come marching in”.

My imagination calling upon-and demanding-that the troops of saints come marching in.

I stared down that field.


I sang again.  Louder.  The sky hung low and grey.  The air was soft and cool.  Dry.  Even though I was outside I felt like was enclosed within the lowered sky and the colors of the world closing down for fall.

I stared down the field.  Fully expecting the saints to come marching in.  Up to me.  In a glorious chorus.


I belted out the first few lines.




Staring down the field.  Believing I could summon them.

There was nothing to deter me.  I had to have faith.  And patience.  I believed.

My singing was powerful.   It felt good.  And loud.  If I waited.  And if I sang.  I would see them.  How could they refuse this child who sang.  And believed.  And beckoned them.

I sang again.

I could do this all day.

Until my brother came out and told me to shut up.   Dad was trying to take a nap.

I jumped off of the portal.  And it returned to being just a tree stump.  On a dark and cool fall day.

I am pretty sure I was just beginning to see halos flashing through from the edges of the fields.

Now we will never know.

The Tree Before It Was My Portal

This is the very tree that one day long after this picture was taken, turned in to a tree stump, turned in to my portal, and returned to being just a tree stump.  



44 thoughts on “My Portal To The Heavens

  1. What a great story, Colleen. Love that you have the photo of the original tree. Now I think you need to do one of your little drawings of you standing on that stump!

    Love the anticlimactic ending!

    Hugs from Ecuador,


      • Thank you Koji, on both counts. I don’t know why I remember this one so clearly. I don’t feel like I have a lot of vivid memories from childhood. But I can still see the vision of looking down that field. And feeling alone and powerful within the world. And then my brother comes out and tells me to shut up. Eh. But I remember the singing and believing they were coming!


  2. A response from my Uncle:


    …..and the 1936 Pontiac in the photo was the car that “Papa” taught me to drive. We started from Columbus to New Lex and he suddenly stopped the car, got out, and told me to drive! My driving at that point had been restricted to our driveway. I believe he pretended his somewhat serene composure but we made it, almost without incident.

    The car ultimately became ours and your dad and I drove it often. When it became an embarrassment and not truly roadworthy we gave it to Fr. Dermody to use in clearing land and outbuildings for his new parish of St. Matthias on Karl Rd.

    I remember the car as actually being made of metal heavier than army vehicles I drove later in life and most likely the safest car in existence .

    Oh yes, I remember the tree also.


  3. Colleen, not much has changed since then … I had to have faith. And patience. I believed.
    I can see you belting out … a bit like me when I was a child, when I moved away from my grandma to my mom after school finished, grandma neighbors said they missed my belting.
    A brilliant story, Colleen … I can see you in front of me .. singing your lungs out.
    Believes can move mountains they say.


  4. That’s a great story. What an imaginative child you were! I used to think that the holes in clouds with sun shining through them was God reaching down to us. I thought that fog was a cloud that had died and fell to Earth. My mom used to say when it was raining while the sun was shining that the “Devil was beating his wife” which caused me to have images of Persephone beating the crap out of him.


  5. I had to laugh at your brother coming out to tell you to “Shut Up!” Clearly he was standing in the way of something glorious! Now, if I may…you were a funny little kid! LOL! You had a great imagination. 🙂


  6. Colleen, I am sure beyond any doubt if you had rang out “When the Saints come Marching in” one more time you would have seen them in all their glory. But brothers with big mouths have a way about themselves. You have your stump, your memories, and a glisp of a halo, sometimes that is all that is needed. Take care, Bill


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