Building a home from the inside out

A Christian Science perspective.

Foreclosure signs have continued going up in front of houses across the US, despite government measures designed to forestall it. When someone loses a job or finds their mortgage terms too expensive to meet, the question arises: Will I lose my home?

The good news is, no matter what happens to a particular piece of real estate, it is impossible to lose your home because you carry it along with you wherever you go. Home is not so much a physical location as it is a mental abiding place filled with spiritual qualities. And spiritual qualities can be planted wherever you are.

Friends of mine relocate every few years. They've lived on several continents in tiny military apartments, large houses with servants, suburban houses, and many temporary housing arrangements; yet each place they live feels like home to them. Their ability to transform any four walls into a home comes from their concept of what home is. "Home is a sacred place for us," says one family member, "where love, joy, creativity, enthusiasm, patience, compassion, hard work, and appreciation are freely expressed." No matter where they happen to be, these familiar and comforting qualities, rather than a particular address, define their home.

"Home is the dearest spot on earth, and it should be the centre, though not the boundary, of the affections," wrote Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 58). Affection is one quality almost universally associated with home – affection for family members, friends, pets, beautiful and useful objects, surroundings, and so on. Even affection for yourself, as when for example you paint a room your favorite color or place your comfy chair next to a window with a view. I've found that the more affection is expressed in and through my home, the more I find myself carrying it with me into the world.

Jesus told a story about a man who believed he could leave home behind (see Luke 15:11–24). He finagled a large sum out of his father, packed up, and went abroad. After blowing through his cash, he got a menial job, living in squalor and semistarvation. He didn't have a single friend to help him out.

At this point, he realized that the qualities he associated with "home"– security, affection, hospitality – weren't evident. He was feeling (and apparently was) homeless. But he knew that those qualities were readily available to servants in his father's home. And feeling unworthy because of his bad decisions, he made plans to return as a servant instead of a son.

Before he got to the front door, his dad saw him and came running. He hugged and kissed him and welcomed him affectionately with gifts and a big party. He wouldn't even listen to his son's protestations of unworthiness, because he knew his son belonged in his rightful place in that home.

To me, the story of this young man illustrates the importance of realizing what home really is. Even while we are still wandering, it literally brings us home – to a mental place where we recognize that we belong to those qualities, and those qualities belong to us. We are no longer homeless and are never likely to feel that way again when the qualities of home are firmly established in thought.

To find a home, or to improve our home, it's important to start with those mental qualities. Expressing more affection toward family, friends, and acquaintances, even toward our surroundings, will elevate our sense of home, and we'll see improvements in our living conditions as well. Recognizing and appreciating the spiritual qualities of home – beauty, order, security, hospitality, affection, and comfort – will bring out those qualities in the place where we live, or will bring us to a new place where those qualities are more evident.

This is home building anyone can undertake right now. And it's not subject to the vagaries of the economy.

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