Monday, 25 June 2012

Home is where the Heart is...

   As I am taking a year out from my University studies, I am needing to live somewhere other than my student flat. A couple from church (Bernard and Shirley) kindly offered their home and I gladly accepted. When I was packing my stuff up to move it was so strange. I felt sad that I was leaving my flat but at the same time I was so happy. When I was at Bernard and Shirley’s unpacking and putting stuff away it was so much fun. I have my own room (their eldest daughter's old room) and so much space to put my things.

   I’m finding I can easily make a space my own. When I moved into the city flat I quickly took to hanging stuff up - posters, canvases, bunting, plaques, pictures; placing colour coding nicknacks, homely touches and candles about too… Anna was pleasantly surprised when she came back for term starting, I had made decent contribution to the flat, on top of her splash-out of 4 navy blue blankets for the sofas! It hasn’t always been easy for me to feel comfortable in new places, but I am definitely learning that home is where the heart is.

   Mum never saw my flat in Dundee and I think that makes it easier to move. Mum imagined me in a space depicted by photographs and I guess now she has seen where I lived, and where I will live in the future too. It is hard doing new things without being able to tell her all about it, but I know she knows everything now, and I will say more on this in posts to come. She will be happy that I am living in a caring home. A family home. A warm home.

   Moving reminded me of Christmas last year. The idea that ‘Home is where the Heart is’ was on my mind so prominently a few months ago, and it was frightening to feel that when the biggest heart is taken away, a place can cease to be homely. It was so hard at Christmas being home in Peterborough. There were times when I literally wanted to just up and leave, get away from the unfamiliar space. It suddenly felt so alien, without Mum. Our house in Peterborough is lovely, it is the only home I have ever known living with my whole family, for almost 20 years now. I grew up there, in it resides my childhood and my adolescence. So many memories. And up until the end of September, all with Mum. She loved the ‘Beautiful Homes’ magazines, going through the pictures of the different decors ‘ooh’ing and ‘ah’ing at the different furnishings or wall hangings. She loved to decorate the house, always had something else to do, which in her last years never got done for one reason or another. She was very much into crafts, making cards, painting plaques, knitting, the house is full of her creations, each with some loving or Christian message or cute picture. It was heart breaking to see her hand and character on display in every room, but not herself.
   The house felt empty. Even with Dad, my sister and myself, it just felt empty. Kind of cold. Abandoned. It was as if Mum had been there just seconds ago, organising something, putting papers in a specific place, set aside her knitting for a moment and forgotten, never gone back to it. Like when someone takes off their shoe and their footprint still remains, as was our home.

   I met a guy a few years ago, we were both far away from home. When trying to guess where he was from I couldn’t - his accent was a blend of many I’d heard before, as if he had been in many different places for a long time. It was interesting to learn he was a Londoner, but had been traveling across Asia for 6 months at the time.
   It got me thinking though, about where we come from and who we become. Does the person who you have become reflect your roots? Should it? If the answers to these questions are opposites, then change it. On this earth we appear in a place by chance, we are born into a country and a home not of our choice, what we do with the opportunities God gives us after this fact is our own to control. I have learned that family is not everything. LOVE is. It has been said that ‘friends are the family you chose’, but I would also add that family is the family you chose to love. My Mother and Father were always host to strangers visiting the congregation we were part of, some nights us children would sleep on the floor in a room to accommodate people in our beds. This is Family. Sharing yourself and what you have with others, leaning on each other, rejoicing with each other. If Home is where the Heart is then Family is where the LOVE is.

As a Christian I believe that God is LOVE. My Home is not an earthly one. The LOVE I seek is everlasting, given by the One from whom I cannot run.
   I am no longer afraid of going to new places, meeting new people. If I take LOVE with me, I cannot fear anything, I can only LOVE more.

By the way, I do love our house in Peterborough. It is my home away from Home; Our family’s little piece of heaven.

John 14 was the first part of scripture I ever really read and memorised. It was the first place I randomly opened in my Bible one day many years ago, and it has continued to strike a chord in my heart, being an encouragement for the eternal hope I have in Him.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." [NLT, 1984]

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