The flexibility and stillness of home
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
A long-time neighbor, widowed earlier this year, has a "For Sale" sign up. Another family's banner announces, "It's a boy!" Our son is thinking about putting up garage sale signs. He's moving to the opposite coast, and he's hinting that wedding bells may be in his plans.
With the many changes I've experienced over the years, I know the mixture of anxiety and excitement a move or a new relationship can bring. I understand when my son talks about his fears. But when he asked me for advice, I decided to set aside some time to pray.
So I go for a walk along a trail that threads in and out of a stand of oaks, following a brook.
I know from experience that telling my son what to do - or not do - isn't what he needs.
But what should I say? Listening to the water in the stream, I think back. When I was a small child, my family was forced to live in a motel for several months. My dad had been transferred to a new job, and we'd left before our house sold. Arriving in the new city, my parents discovered they couldn't afford new housing while still paying the old mortgage. The house didn't sell.
My parents were worried, so I worried, too. I remember listening to them talk when they thought I was asleep. Dad asked, "What are we going to do?" I've clung to my mother's answer ever since.
She said, "We're going to do what we always do. You're going to work, and I'm going to take care of the girls. We're going to go to church. We're going to make new friends. We're going to explore and find interesting things to see and do. We're going to read the Bible every morning, and we're going to pray every spare minute. But most of all, we're going to trust God."
And in the dark, hearing Mother's voice, my little-girl heart found peaceful stillness. I knew how to pray, and I knew God loved us. I fell asleep.
Eventually, all of our needs were met when my parents realized they needed to be open to new possibilities. We didn't sell our house but traded it for a mobile home, which came in handy for the 12 moves we made in the next four years. And with every move, we followed the same stable course: family, church, work, and school. And lots of prayer.
It's a lesson I've never forgotten, because with all that moving, I came to understand that the stillness and peace of home is something we take with us, not necessarily something we leave and try to find over and over again in new places.
I love to think of the quality of stillness in relation to finding a place to feel at home. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, wrote: "Certain moods of mind find an indefinable pleasure in stillness, soft, silent as the storm's sudden hush; for nature's stillness is voiced with a hum of harmony, the gentle murmur of early morn, the evening's closing vespers, and lyre of bird and brooklet" ("Christian Science versus Pantheism," pg. 3).
Isn't this what we all need in a home - harmony, safety, and beauty - whether that home is a motel or a mansion, whether we're married or single, with or without family?
I look at the foliage naturally responding to wind, season, and rainfall, and I realize that human homes, to be secure, must include flexibility, as well as stability.
My prayer is answered.
I'll tell my son of my mother's commitment to stability and joy in a time of uprootedness and fear. I'll encourage him to pray and then be flexible enough to listen to God's answer, even if it means following an unexpected path.
And my neighbors? I include them in my prayers, too, grateful that, no matter what changes may come, God has already prepared a place for us all in the stillness of His presence.
My people shall dwell
in a peaceable habitation,
and in sure dwellings,
and in quiet resting places.