Home. “The quiet awareness of being loved” is how a friend of mine described it. She was in her 90s, living alone in her modest home, after a remarkable life devoted to God’s service. That her sense of home came from a certainty of God’s love for her spoke volumes to me.
If we’re honest, in everyone’s heart is a longing for what we feel home should be. The trouble is that it’s usually thought of in terms of property, possessions, people, and place. But in a world where there is so much homelessness and dispossession, where refugees are being uprooted from their homelands, where family care may have failed, and where fixed points in life have disappeared, home has to be something more.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, was once quoted as saying: “Home is not a place but a power. We find home when we arrive at the full understanding of God. Home! Think of it! Where sense has no claims and Soul satisfies” (Irving C. Tomlinson, “Twelve Years Mary Baker Eddy, Amplified Edition,” 1996, p. 211). Her sense of home was a spiritual one, as the basis of her thought moved from sense to Soul, a name for God. The basis for her understanding of God and home came from following the teachings of Christ Jesus.
Jesus’ unique, world-changing ministry showed that his home in God – in a consciousness of living in the embrace of God, who is Love – was with him wherever he went. As he explained to his disciples: “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2, 3). I’ve often thought that all the qualities of home – hospitality, welcome, and care – are expressed in that “place,” not just for a time, but for eternity. What assurance this gives of our home in God, now and forever.
In our search for home, when my husband and I were first married, a dear friend provided a generous gift to help us buy a house. But she gave us more than money. She lifted our concept of home from something we owned to something we could share. She told us she hoped we would think of ourselves as custodians, not proprietors. Everything she gave (and she gave generously to many) carried the tag, “To be used to help people,” and a second tag saying, “In due course you can give this gift to others.” It was an ongoing development. Home wasn’t just bricks and mortar; it was a spiritual idea – not self-serving, but centered in service to God who gives us a true home to share with our neighbor. This wise, gentle friend gave us the vision along with the gift, and set us on a path that was to expand through the years.
From then on, our homes almost always included a number of friends and visitors from around the world in addition to our own family. Some came for one night while others stayed for several years; but they came, and left when they needed to, and the timing was always just right. We realized this lifestyle wasn’t for everyone, but in a world where home and family can be hard to come by – especially for young people on their own – we chose to interpret our friend’s vision in this way. And God gave us a wonderful extended family!
During this time, we learned much about home. We weathered economic recessions – when it seemed almost impossible to afford what we needed. We had to be patient with repairs and alterations. But those “elastic” walls kept on expanding to make room for those who needed to share our home and feel God’s love for them – and each one brought new dimensions to our view of God’s universal family.
Through experiences such as this, I’ve learned that as changes take place in the shape of our lives, we find ourselves in new situations, with new demands and opportunities. But whether our lot is to live as simply as a nomad in a tent, or in the complexity of a modern city, the home that never changes is that spiritual sense of home within us – our home in God, blessed by that “quiet awareness of being loved by Him.”
This article was adapted from an article in the Jan. 5, 2009, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.