Tag Archives: Home

To Our Home’s New Owner

Welcome to your new home!

We are so happy that you were interested and even happier that you’ll be staying a while.

We are very sad to leave, perhaps it’s good for you to know that. We’re not leaving here to get away from here, but because we’ve been called elsewhere. We intended to stay here for many years, but life, at times, has different plans. And so we are moving across the country, and this space has been prepared for you.

A building is made of wood and plaster and nails and paint. It is a material thing which was, at one time, built; and will be, at another time, gone. It is a thing, not a living thing, but a thing which is made up of so many things which once were living but had died so that this house could be built. But in a way, It is living. Because, as I’m sure you understand, a house is made of wood and plaster and nails and paint, but it is much more than just that.

This house saw our family grow from two to three, and it was to first home to which we brought our son. It was within these walls that we had sleepless nights, laughed, cried, and began learning how to be parents. These walls saw his first smile, first sitting up, first crawling, first pulling up. These rooms echoed with laughter from dinner gatherings with friends and family. These walls heard of joy and sadness, hope and despair. In fact, this was the very first house that we ever owned.

Far more than a shelter from the elements, this house served as a respite from the trials of the world and was a place that was bursting with love, with all of the ups and downs that come along with that. And so we will take all of our things with us, and all that will be left will be the marks in the carpet where our furniture was. A desk, a table, the crib. And with time those marks will fade and any remnant of our time here will also fade away. But that’s okay, that’s the cycle of life.

You may be wondering why I’m sharing all this with you. There is, though, something within me that finds the process of selling a home less than satisfying. So impersonal, anonymous. Those times that you’ve been here, I’ve been gone. And we will likely never meet. And it is strange for me, to have this home that has been so much a part of our lives, and now to sell it to someone that I’ve never met. And perhaps you feel similar, wanting to meet the people who loved this home before you. And so this is why I’m sharing this with you. To let you know a bit of ourselves, and to welcome you to this space.

Even though we’ve only lived here a few years, so much life has happened here. And now it is time for a new chapter for this house. Our chapter has ended, and you are just beginning to add a piece of yourself to these walls and to the collective memory which is held within its bones.

I hope you add much life, and life in its fullness, to the memory of this home. The ups and downs, the twists and turns. Because it is not just the happiness that is meaningful, but all of it.

We hope that you enjoy it here. We have been blessed here. I hope you find the same blessing. 

 

Home

by Jim VanMaastricht on Flickr

Recently, during a rather difficult day, my wife and I were driving back to our flat, and I looked at her and said, “I want to go home.”
“We’ll be there soon,” she said.
“No,” I said, “my real home.”

This, of course, referred to my desire to return to Michigan, the place whence I came, and the place which will always be “home.”  This causes me to think, what is “home,” how do we define it, and what is its function?

Merriam-Webster defines “home” in many ways, among them are as follows:

3  a: a familiar or usual setting : congenial environment; also: the focus of one’s domestic attention <home is where the heart is> b: habitat
4 a: a place of origin <salmon returning to their home to spawn>; also: one’s own country <having troubles at home and abroad>
–(Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed., ad loc)

Simon & Garfunkel, in their song “Homeward Bound” give a different explanation of the concept of home:

Home, where my thought’s escaping
Home, where my music’s playing
Home, where my love lies waiting silently for me

There are also oft-repeated proverbs such as, “home is where the heart is” or “home is where you hang your hat.”

Throughout scripture, we are able to see the importance of home for the ancient Israelites. Their whole faith was grounded in their home, in the promised land, “See, I have set the land before you; go in and take possession of the land that I swore to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give to them and to their descendants after them'” (Deuteronomy 1:8, NRSV). The worst thing that could happen to them, then, is to be taken away from their home.

When I think of my own life, I have lived at a handful of street addresses in a handful of cities in two states, but I only consider that I have one home.

The concept of home is deeper than simply the address, or even the city where one resides.

The ancient Israelites were so attached to the promised land as home, at least in part, because they connect it with God. The land in which they lived was given to them by God, God dwelt in the temple which was physically located in Jerusalem.  Being away from home meant being away from God.

Perhaps this was the root of my desire to return home. I felt, and continue to feel, like I could connect with God in a deeper and more real way when I was at home, in Michigan.  Of course, there was nothing particular about Michigan that aided me in my desire to connect with God, and there is no reason that I cannot connect with God here.

One of the lessons that we learn in the Old Testament about the exile is that God is not limited to a particular place, but even when we are away from home, even when we are away from the visible signs of God’s presence, even when we feel far from God’s presence, God remains there. God is present with us in exile just as God is present with us at home.

Similarly, rather than working and striving simply to return home, perhaps part of my purpose here is to understand that my home is in God, not any particular geographical location.  God is present here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin just as God is present in Holland, Michigan.  It is when I can recognize God’s presence here that I can actually live into God’s calling rather than pining for a particular location or municipality.

When the prophet Jeremiah wrote to the exiles in Babylon, this was included:

Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease (Jeremiah 29:5-6, NRSV).

Those in exile are called to thrive while they are in a foreign land and away from home.  The only reason they can thrive, however, is that God continues to be present. There is nothing wrong in desiring to return to one’s own land, but this cannot prevent us from truly living, even when we are away from home.

Perhaps home is where we can experience connection with God, and part of living is to be able to understand that this connection is possible not only in a particular locale, but in any locale.  Perhaps part of our journey to see glimpses of the coming reign of God is to understand that God is everywhere, and because of that, our understanding of home is also to be expanded beyond a particular geography.