To be a home

There's nothing like reunions to warm the heart. Nothing like returning to the embrace of old friends, walking through the front doors of their new homes, meeting their babies or even toddlers for the first time, reminiscing about happy memories and sharing the aches and dreams deep in our hearts.

I've just returned from a whirlwind of a trip, from the strangest (but also most wildly providential) retreat I've ever been on, from a few jam-packed days of joyous meetings with people who know and love me oh so well. And it's gotten me thinking about home.

I've had quite the slew of homes in my life, from tiny dorm rooms to lovely apartments to the shoebox of a house where I grew up. And there's nothing that compares to that glorious sense of settling, when there are pictures hung and plants potted and the inaugural candlelit dinner party underway. Homemaking, really and truly making a place a home, is one of my very favorite things.

I find myself in an interesting in-between season at the moment. I've just undergone two major life upheavals, and I am merely on the cusp of a season of transition, grief, mourning, processing, making sense of what on earth just happened in my life. This is wholly unlike seasons past, when I've felt at least some semblance of control, predictability, and organization of all the little and big aspects of my life into nice and tidy compartments.

In truth, it's all a mess.

But it's only right that it's a mess, only right that I'm not settled, only right that I don't quite feel at home in this peculiar time. I can't deny that I miss those days, days when I did feel at home, when I had a home to welcome people to. Those were the days of hearing my doorbell ring and rushing to greet my arriving friends, days of hosting Bible study and brunches and dinner parties, days of rhythm and comfort and joy.

But there's a strange blessing of the present, these unprecedented days I would never have imagined or longed for, but am doing my best to accept as a gift from the hand of God. It became clear to me during my travels, when I sat across from a priest for hours, a man who reminded me more and more of my dad by the day, whose words seemed to come directly from God the Father Himself. When I was hosted by friends who swung open their door and their hearts to me, welcomed me to stay as long as I liked, urged me to return anytime. When I was offered money and listening ears and countless more places to stay, or even live.

Yes, four walls often make up a home. But so, too, can a heart.

Through the tender mercy of God, in these recent travels of mine, I happened to find myself sitting next to my very best friend on her couch, a friend who has lived thousands of miles from me for years. Her heart, in a way, is a home to me. She opened that home of a heart as I poured out the contents of my own, as I cried at the sorrow of it all, as I whispered the secret dreams that I long to come true.

Her heart is a home, warm and safe. She is a haven to me as she listens, receives my own broken heart without judgment, bolsters me with encouragement and kindness. To be at home with her doesn't require any planning at all, no shopping or decorating or slaving over a meal. A heart can be a home in an instant.

And that's what I can take comfort in during this uncomfortable season of change and unknowing. I may not be able to welcome people into my home as I long to, may not be able to open my wounded and weary heart as a haven to others these days, may not have much to give at all. But what I do have to give is my poverty, my need. I can come with my longing to be loved, can fill a home with my heart, full and heavy, can draw out of my friends great compassion and hospitality and care.

I do have great hope that in the days ahead, I will again be the one to fling open the door of my home and my heart to any and everyone. But that season has not yet come. Until then, I'll knock on the doors of homes and hearts of dear, old friends, coming just as I am, offering nothing but to love and be loved.




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