What makes a home?
The cat’s made herself at home. After a year of upheaval, moving from Oulton Broad, Lowestoft, to Norwich (where she was bullied by a streetwise city cat) and then again to Sparham, Mo our 15-year-old cat has decided country life is the thing. She has also set up home in my PA’s office next door.
“What makes a home” has been on our minds a lot over the last year, with the two moves and, with my mother dying, the sorting out and selling of her bungalow.
What makes a home? Interestingly, in her final months my mother said to me of her bungalow in Oulton Broad, where she had lived for four years following my father’s death and a move from the family home of nearly 50 years in Southend, that she was glad she had never made the bungalow a home. It made it easier when she had to move into residential care.
What did she mean? I felt a little hurt initially as we had moved heaven and earth to move her in, put familiar things in familiar places and make it comfortable and safe.
For her, it was because it wasn’t the place that formed the centre of family life, that she had lovingly assembled. Even though she chose everything that was kept or bought, nonetheless we had to do it all for her. She had been happy there and had felt safe. Yet it wasn’t, for her, a real home. Rather a lodging place for her final years. More important, what made Oulton Broad home was the presence of family locally and the wider family of the church which quickly became a home for her also.
Perhaps then, home is more about people, events, where we truly feel at home and less about bricks and mortar.
I think about someone who became a Christian through the Alpha Course who spoke about how coming to faith and to church felt like “coming home”.
When Jesus was speaking to his disciples about the cost of following him he said, “Foxes have dens and birds have nest, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Matthew 8.20). Yet he made his home amongst us, the very stuff of incarnation. His home was with his disciples, the people he ministered to.
His home was found in being at the centre of the Father’s will for him. In the presence of God. “I and the father are one” (John 10.30).
No matter how big, small or even absent our house is during our time on this planet, our true home is with God where we become homes ourselves, temples of the Holy Spirit. That in turn points us towards our real destination.
O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while life shall last,
And our eternal home.
This article is from...
Articles in this issue...
Supporting strangers and sojourners
Sally Clarke, who worships at St Stephens, Norwich, shares her individual approach in offering a home, not only to “regular” lodgers, but sometimes to those who others might think twice about accepting.More
Creating a home from home
When most people are settling into retirement, one couple took on a major project to provide a home from home for students. Here is their roller-coaster tale of the past two years.More
Adoption; the core of who we are
Without adoption, our Christian story might have been radically different. Christ’s earliest moments teach us to extend family generously, for our salvation as well as others’.More
A sense of belonging
Reflecting on home and family, I recall my own happy childhood when I naively believed everyone’s experience was similar. I was wrong. Family and home hold different meanings for people.More
Faith at home
Research by the Church of England has highlighted that one of the most important factors in enabling children to continue in faith through to adulthood is the support they receive from their family – and yet the Faith in our families report published last year by Care for the Family showed a widespread lack of confidence in parents and a lack of tools to help.More
Care Home Friends
Home and family comes in many different shapes and guises. One village church in Norfolk is making a real impact on the elderly in their community.More
Home at the heart of the Cathedral family
Before I worked in a cathedral l had never considered what such a majestic building really meant. Visiting cathedrals as a child I remember feeling unnerved within vast, cold space, stunned by stained glass windows, bemused by weird smells and strange objects. I recall the word “Shush” being used a lot too.More
The church as home – reflections on Mark 9:33-37
"Breaking down barriers and being a place that recognises that we're all unfit and need God and each other to get better"More
Our house, in the middle of our street
Not content with opening their home to others, Sue and Gary Moore, member of the Church Army, have gone one stop further by purchasing a second home for the use of those living in their community near Dereham, and calling it 'Our House'. Biddy Collyer went to meet them.More