04 November 2014

Reflections on Home

“Make your home in me, as I make my home in you.” Jesus

“Within the house of love, relationships are characterized by mutual vulnerability, gratitude, peace, and celebration.” Henri Nouwen

Dear Friends,

When we moved to Tigard from Dallas, we sold the house we had lived in for seven years, the first (and only) house we have ever owned.

This little place on Woods Lane wasn’t just a house. To us, it was a home in the deepest sense of the word. To those not emotionally invested in it, it may not look like much. But to us, it was the place where we shared in the fullness of our life together as a family. It is where we laughed and cried and argued and played and celebrated and ate and rested. In this home, we felt safe, secure, known, respected, valued. One day, we left this home as a family of three and the next day returned as a family of four. We opened the doors of this home in hospitality to friends and family who through their loving and gracious presence helped to bless the space we inhabited. At the end of a long or difficult day, it was to this home that we returned to take refuge. 

I’m on the brink of getting hopelessly sentimental and sappy, so let me also say that this house was a royal pain in the backside. I spent countless hours painting it, rebuilding the deck, and erecting a retaining wall out back. We discovered a water issue under the house, and so I had the “pleasure” of wriggling around in the crawl space getting filthy and up close and personal with spiders and other critters. The heating system died, which was only one of the major repair expenses we had to dig deep to pay.

And still we loved it.

For me, leaving our home was one of the most difficult parts of our move last summer. I remember returning from a run one spring evening before the move and, as I walked up the gravel lane to our house, finding myself unexpectedly in tears at the thought of leaving our home. It had been filled with so much life. I felt like I should do what Jacob did—erect a stone pillar and pour oil on it to consecrate the place for surely God had revealed Godself to us at that place.

In every change life brings to us there is, of course, an opportunity. Yes, we human beings are drawn to place—to those sites where significant events have transpired, to the buildings that have witnessed the drama of our existence.

But the opportunity for me is to remember that my true home is not made of 2x4’s or drywall or composition shingles. My true home can’t be found on a map or with GPS. While the address of our life’s events is important, we all know that loving, caring relationships are what make any edifice a home. For me, those relationships—particularly with my family—continue to be my place of refuge and safety. Those relationships are the place where I am known and valued and respected. Those relationships hold me and protect me. Through those relationships, I can be at home anywhere.

The spiritual growth opportunity for me is to make my home in these loving, caring relationships that can hallow any patch of earth, any dwelling. This is what I think Jesus means when he says, “Make your home in me, as I make my home in you.”

So as I continue to adjust to life in a new community, living now in an apartment, my address has changed.

But in a sense, I’ve never left home.