Our family loves to drive past our old homes in Massachusetts and Virginia, trying to catch a glimpse and a memory of the rooms we once inhabited, the place where we loved and laughed, cried and fought. We critique the changes the new owners made, wonder why they took down that tree fort built by our sons’ young hands, cut down the tall trees out back, or why they changed our favorite paint color.
My childhood friend owns a home in the same Cape Cod neighborhood where my grandparents once lived. When I visit her, we walk over to my grandparent’s old house and stand at the end of the driveway. I silently long for my grandmother to walk out the breezeway door and invite me in for her homemade clam chowder and gather me up
for one more walk along her beach over to the boathouse—our final destination where we always turned back for home. She’s been gone a very long time.
We can never really go home. My twins knew the house wouldn’t be the same. They knew they wouldn’t find our Brittany spaniel sitting by the backdoor, watching the squirrels. Their room would be painted a different cor with different furnishings and Godzilla their bearded dragon lizard would be gone. Their brothers wouldn’t be inside listening to music, playing guitar, or reading.
Recently, I’ve discovered I can find my old homes online by typing the address into Google and watching the most recent Real Estate ad pop up. In the case of our
old home in Massachusetts, I caught a glimpse of the rooms where we lived, the grape arbor in the backyard, the renovations the new owners made to improve the
was more peaceful than my own turbulent home. When my sons were growing up and I had found the family I always longed for, a part of me still longed for a more ordered home, some idyllic place where I would never feel the anxieties of this world and the push of needing something, anything.
while the smell of dinner wafts from the kitchen. In the cold weather, a fire burns warmly in the room. Voices are quiet or silent in this safe, safe place where strife ceases to exist.
This imagined home is a mere fantasy, a mirage in most cases. Many of the homes I pass likely have worries over bills, grief over the tension between spouses when one reclines in the basement watching sports for hours on end and one uses their tongue to slice and dice people. But here’s the puzzling part. Why create this phantom life in my mind when my home today fits the lovely description above, a comfortable refuge for us and for others who visit? My home may not be luxurious or fit for Home and Garden magazine, but it’s the kind of home that just might be the best you can find on earth, despite its small size and simple furnishings. Everyone feels welcome and safe here. We enjoy a steady stream of rich company and great conversation around the table, creating memorable moments.
wisely describes this longing in Mere Christianity: “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
is both memoir and rich biblical theology, and is, in all of its parts, an
aroma of the Home for which we are made and for which we are destined. With
wit, candor, a good bit of humor, and with transparent glimpses into her home,
her history, her travels, her travails, her worship, her marriage, her table,
her rest, and her longings—Jen offers an oasis for all of us who are homesick.”