There are some places that make me feel fully awake to the wonder of this life.
As an adult I have lived in three different countries and the Pacific Islands. I’ve settled into eleven different homes in my thirteen years of marriage. (Really. Eleven!) After all the moves, all the starting over and after being the “new girl” again and again, I’ve come to to long for places that are familiar, places that anchor me in time and space and that nurture a sense of safety and stability. I’ve come to long for home in the deepest parts of my heart with an ache I can only just begin to describe with words.
When our family moved from Germany to the United States, my husband and I found ourselves back in our hometown, rather penniless and rather tired… and right in the middle of the dry season. The caramel yellow of the hills and the constant dust seemed to echo a fatigue that matched our own. We had lived in a 12th century hunting castle in Bavaria, steeped in the rich community of a missionary base, and I found myself often longing for the green of the hills that surrounded our small village there. I craved the food shared at community tables and the quiet of the country. Among the strip malls and billboards of the western United States, I found myself desiring the aesthetic of old architecture: churches and buildings lovingly updated and restored through the centuries- looking forward, but not quite letting go of the past. My oldest was just two years old at the time and in my days of caring for her and entrenched in the tasks of setting up a new home that I wasn’t very fond of, I sensed a growing discontent with my surroundings, with relationships, and with our pauper circumstances. Life felt so bland and gray, a little hopeless.
My daughter and I had visited all the libraries, parks, pools and riverbanks I could remember from my own childhood and on a lark, I decided to do a bit of exploring. I was on a quest, really, willing myself to find something that would stir excitement. With money set aside for a treat, we found ourselves at a small French bakery I’d enjoyed visiting in high school. Appropriately named The Anjou, for its location nestled in the heart of a beautiful pear orchard, the scene was idyllic! The bakery had transformed an old barn into a haven, with a front porch lavished in flower pots and the sweet smell of fruit ripening in the orchard to engulf our senses. I was captivated by the simple beauty as we savored butter croissants and patted the head of the resident old lab, Fritz.
At that very moment, something awakened in my heart. I became aware of the lime green patio furniture and the contrast it brought out in the grooves of the old slab floor. My baby girl’s dimpled hands seemed softer than ever as she held on to me, and her laughter was infectious as she played with the dog that was bigger than she was. The sun in our eyes lit up that space and I drank in every single drop. I felt at home, not in memory or association, but in sentimental feeling, in the connection that was knit between the beauty of this bakery and my own personality. This physical place had an unspoken ability to nourish my soul and fill it with beauty and light at a time when everything else felt as dry as the hills. Just being there felt right, and for the first time in weeks, I saw my life through a lens of beauty and hope, instead of dust.
Creating a home is a lot like this. We labour as women to create spaces where our family and friends can gather; we set tables and wash clothes, we arrange pictures on the walls and plant gardens, and often, we can become so overwhelmed with the tasks of this call and this work. Creating space for our families to dwell and a home that they long for though, is really about the knitting of hearts, the celebration of personalities expressed, and the truth of God’s presence in our midst. The beauty of a colorful scarf draped over a chair, the arrangement of a bouquet, or the placement of a single candle at the dinner table can awaken those we love to really see with new eyes. Every day, we offer in our homes a chance for our children to literally glimpse heaven in the presence of small sparks of beauty.
Your home might feel mostly like dust right now. Your circumstances may be dry, your prospects gray and you may wonder how to even begin going about making a home where nurture abounds. I’ve been there. I know that dry place.
But today? Mama, you can take heart and rest because the wonder of it all is Our God does this. He takes dust and breathes life. Not a life that is hollow or gray, but a life that is full. His beauty gives this glimpse of sweet truth to our souls. Truth of God’s presence, that he alone satisfies, and this brings hope beyond measure. Beauty somehow reaches in and pulls out that sense of longing, the desire for home that can tug at our core, and reminds us that we can know that we belong, truly, at home and at rest with the One who is Beautiful.
Is there someone in your life who is living in a dry place that can be nourished by beauty and hospitality in your heart and home? How have you seen beauty transform your sense of what is true and Who God is?
***The 24 hours of the .99 on Amazon is now over, but as an almost full length book, I think you will enjoy it and be blessed at the normal price of $4.99! We were so happy that we were able to do a 24 hour deal for so many of you. Thanks for making the launch such a wonderful blessing to us, who work on the blog and books just for you! You were amazing!