I knew them both in their younger years, though my memories are those of a child because I was a child then. Still, there are clear pictures in my mind of a house with colorful gardens guarded by a high stone wall. A huge, red brick barn, both impressive and mysterious, sat next to the house. The barn should have been incongruous with its’ surroundings, yet it seemed to belong to the house and so blended in so naturally that no one paid it any extra attention that I can remember. Both had seen better days, it was true. They seemed to have aged together, the house and its’ occupant. Because this was so, it was hard to say which was the worse for the wear, who most in need of repair, the house or its’ occupant?
They had aged together, imperceptibly at first, but then seeming to accelerate with the passing of the years. Still, it seemed a surprise to behold them now. Each was different from what they had been, yet each retained that essential essence that was their uniqueness in this world of carbon copies. Today the gardens are overgrown and the wall, not so high after all, is falling down in some places, unable to do its’ job as well as it once did, yet still standing firm, surrounding and protecting all that lies within from all that lies outside of its’ stony barrier. The barn, though suffering the effects of years of weather, still retains its’ mystery and its’ link with the past; a legacy of stories both rumor and reality, regarding its’ past uses and inhabitants. (Dan Patch, the famous race horse, is said to have stayed in this very barn on the way from somewhere to somewhere?) The occupant of the house, though slower of step, is still quick with her wit, wisdom and warmth. Unlike her outward appearance, her spirit is unchanged by time except to have grown more fully into those intangible qualities that make her both precious and unique.
And so each was in need of a healing touch to restore what the years had quietly stolen away while neither one was watching, each busy with the business of living each present day. They had arrived at this place together and were comfortable with each other, neither noticing the deficiencies of the other and both willing to overlook those shortcomings they were aware of. She could no longer care for the house, but the house still cared for her, giving her safety and shelter as best it could.
They are what I know, this house and its’ occupant, and I will miss them when they are gone. Of course, the house could be restored, but never to what I remember it to have been. A restoration to something new, someone else’s vision of what could be will one day take place and transform this house into something new, not restore it to what it was. Its’ occupant, however, will not be restored here on earth, but only in heaven when she receives her new and glorious body, promised to each one of us who belong to Jesus. She will be more than restored, she will be transformed for eternity. This is my great comfort. You see, I care not so much for the house, but for my mother. It gives me wonderful peace to know that she will have no more pain.
So for now, they keep each other company, content and comfortable, one with the other, companions of sorts. Mom knows every creak of every floor board, every plumbing and furnace noise and every creature noise from the squirrels (and/or raccoons) in the attic to the bees that live in the upstairs corner bedroom from time to time. (they are seasonal)
To me this place is home, because it is where my mom is and has been for so long. The smell of wet leaves in the fall, the bluebells at the kitchen door in the spring, welcomed me home in their season. Wood smoke from the fireplace, the pine and the sycamore, along with the peonies and iris and the barn’s cool, damp, musty smell, a smell full of dark mystery, all blend together in my mind’s eye. The house and the barn will always be unique in all the world, as is my mom.
Is home a place or a person? for me it was both for awhile, they were one and the same. But ultimately, home is a person. Jesus said, “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.” (John 14:2-3)
Where Jesus is — that is home in the truest sense of the word. And my mom is there now, my mom is home. I can’t go home anymore on this earth, but I am headed home. I am headed for heaven. Mom liked nothing better than to know that my sisters and I were all headed home, families with us, for a visit. So hang on Mom, we are all on our way, we are all headed home. Home is both a place and a person. Our person, Jesus, is preparing our place for each one of us even now. He said so in His word.
“For this world is not our home; we are looking forward to our everlasting home in heaven.” (Hebrews 13:14)
some days I am more homesick than others,
sincerely, Grace Day