MY childhood home was spacious, a secure haven and a wonderful anchorage for many years. Home as I knew it then was a peaceful, happy household run by considerate, gentle, loving parents. I cherished it as a refuge and a fortress against the challenges of the outside world. In later years a wider, more spiritual concept of home developed after my wife, children, and I adopted Christian Science as our way of life.
I discovered during a career that took us to different locations every three to four years, that home is infinitely more than a transient residence, however humble or prestigious. It is an idea that persists wherever one may go. We inhabit such a home when we faithfully look to God for direction and stability. Our real Parent, our Father-Mother God, is our true home, for, as the book of Acts in the Bible tells us, ``In him we live, and move, and have our being'' (17:28) Thus home is an environment partaking of God's omnipotence and omnipresence--a place of power, peace, love, and rich tranquility.
A residence constructed of bricks and mortar is a far cry from the genuine home whose architect and builder is God. Human planning and manual labor may build a house, but it becomes a home only when it manifests the underlying reality, which is spiritual. The Psalmist tells us, ``Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it (Psalms 127:1).
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, writes in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``The understanding, even in a degree, of the divine All-power destroys fear, and plants the feet in the true path,--the path which leads to the house built without hands `eternal in the heavens' '' (p. 454). Since home is an idea of divine Mind, God, I realized that we all, as children of God, inherently reflect His perfect concept of home. As we understand this, home becomes more visible in our experience. When our home glows with love, kindness, sincerity, and sweet contentment--qualities of divine Mind, reflected by man made in God's image--these are visible outward signs of inner harmony.
Our very first home was in a remote village of Zimbabwe. The cottage was sparsely furnished and inconvenient. It became home, however, as we practiced qualities such as friendliness, peace, harmony, love, beauty. The cottage was followed by a succession of residences that grew progressively in size and comfort over the course of three decades as my work advanced at various rural stations, towns, and cities. Each of these residences was home because we carried with us the God-filled atmosphere established from the first in that tiny cottage.
After I retired, my wife and I settled in another country to follow new pursuits. We've made plenty of changes to the utilitarian structure we started with, and now the comfortably furnished chalet has an aspect of charm. But something deeper--a spiritual awareness of the joy, gentleness, patience, calmness, temperance, stability, and power of divine Love--is what gives it a lovely aura of home.
Joy, a fine quality for home building, has been reemphasized for us in the example of two white-browed sparrow weavers. These birds have been industriously making nests in a nearby camel thorn tree. They often pause in their toil to sit on the topmost branches and sing jubilantly--just as a cheerful couple hums and whistles contentedly while converting a residence into a glorious environment, called home.
As Christ Jesus assured us, our Father's house has ``many mansions'' (John 14:2). And all of us, His children, find our own home as we grow in our love for Him and His beautiful creations.