Friday, October 26, 2012

True Home

Last spring, we started to feel restless. We were coming up on the third anniversary of our current apartment, which was the longest stretch of time we'd lived anywhere since being married. And if we were going to bother moving, why not try to get into a modest house? The market was so very appealing. But could we qualify? 

Within a few short weeks, we looked around in surprise at our situation. We were making an offer on a darling bungalow in Minneapolis. A few days later, our offer was accepted! We were thrilled. The next step was the inspection. We scheduled it, I picked up paint chips at Menards and started dreaming.

We showed up – excitedly cautious; cautiously excited. As soon as we exited our car, the inspector approached us with a clipboard and succinctly stated: “You should know ahead of time: it is my job to be negative.” We gulped hard, nodded, and followed him through a nearly-two-hour tour that slowly made it plain that this house had major issues. Not just cosmetic – but structural. It was emotionally exhausting, and by the end we were both spent. We owe Al (our inspector) a great deal more than the inspector's fee – he saved us from a lot of heartache, but it was difficult to let go. A few days later, we retracted our offer.

We had scarcely blinked when another property popped up and we signaled to our realtor that we'd like to see it. She obligingly met us, opened a shiny red door to another bungalow, same neighborhood, more space, and much better shape. Wow! And when the inspection rolled around, our trusty Al found much less to complain about. The house had good bones. We hardly expected to get the house, but we made an offer, beat our at least 8 other people in an auction! Now we just needed financing. After three weeks of agonized waiting, we found out that the bank did not think the house was worth what we offered – but rather much lower. $20,000 lower. Our hearts sank into our boots. We had gotten so far on this one.

These trials and joys surrounding our search for a house have been difficult, but they have been so good. How can the bad be so good? Because with each step – whether the ground holds firm or wobbles and crumbles when we put our weight on it – the Lord holds us near and we depend on Him. In Psalm 37, the poet says: “Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.” Do I believe that? More so now than ever.

Today was to be our closing date on the second home. Instead, we are packing up boxes to put in temporary storage. In a few days, we shall be - as the French delicately put it -“sans domicile fixe” (without a permanent address) and staying with generous family members (we love you!). The past week has been quite the mental and emotional ordeal.  The door has closed...and we're not inside of it!

Nonetheless. We are not truly homeless. 

Our true home is prepared for us continually by our Heavenly Father. He is setting up the rooms, shifting the furniture just so, placing our favorite books on the nearest shelf, starting the kettle for a cup of coffee or tea. He longs for our return to Him, to walk through the door and into the glorious, light-filled relationship with Him that we call home. When we've been away for a while, we tend to fear all kinds of things - that the gardens are overgrown, dust has overtaken our library, ice dams have destroyed the roof, the structure of the house is no longer solid, the door won't open when we knock – but all of this in untrue. He keeps this house in order so that, as St. Augustine writes, “when we are absent, our home falls not to ruins.” How? This home He builds, prepares, maintains – it is eternal.

Regardless of what happens with where we live, I can say without reserve, with the Psalmist: “The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You support my lot.The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.”

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Dry Truth

The days twirl out like a leaf spiraling down - dry, dusty, sweet. The earth is still warm despite the cool of night and each morning renews the odors from the day before, crushed and lovely under feet. It is good to breathe all of this. For the eyes to gulp in the sun's beam. 

We've been laying up gems, treasures of the earth. If they last the winter, we will be happy. With food and clothing we will be content, because He never leaves nor forsakes us.

And then there are those afternoons now which are full-blown soft and sweet. Seeds scatter to the air, to the blue. In a few weeks, their downy wings will be wet and trampled underfoot, but for today they sail triumphant.

And that evening walk last week, when crisp winds straightened the field grasses, combing the landscape, letting her copper, stalky hair wave wild. 

"One reason I so deeply care for the camera is just this...handled cleanly and literally in its own terms, as an ice-cold, some ways limited, some ways more capable, eye, it is, like the phonograph record and like the scientific instruments and unlike any other leverage of art, incapable of recording anything but dry truth." (James Agee)