We've seen houses that are well and truly loved, that have been taken care of and look like show homes; houses that are falling apart, and those that are being renovated. We tried to buy a house that had been repossessed, and as I took in the big dents in the front door, I couldn't help but wonder about the stories behind those marks; the tales of a family uprooted from their home. There are houses where the Estate Agents remark at the need for updating, and I cannot help think on the unspoken words behind those remarks - the stories of a beloved family member passing away, their earthly home no longer needed by them. And then you have other buyers. Some people just like us. Young couples eagerly looking for their first family home. Other buyers whose only interest is in making money out of the house, with more money in their pockets than we have, willing to pay above and beyond the asking price of a house, snubbing those who want to make it into their home.
A number of years ago, I visited Uganda. One of my residing memories of my time there, is of the many conversations I had with a man called Pastor Stephen. He is a man of great Godly wisdom, and I remember wishing I had pen and paper to hand every time we spoke, because I didn't want to miss one word of what he said. I can recall a conversation with Pastor Stephen about home. One of the girls in our group was struggling greatly with the difference in culture, and was desperate for her home in the UK. It was very evident to everyone that all she wanted was to go home. Pastor Stephen gently shared his thoughts that home is where your heart feels at home, at peace. You can make anywhere your home, regardless of what your physical house might be like - it is more important that your heart is at peace wherever you are, and that is something that can be cultivated.
While we have been looking at houses for a little while now, the process of finding home started well before we contacted any Estate Agents, before we set foot into the homes of properties on the market. It started with feeling at home in this city; at home as a married couple; at home in our church. There were feelings of needing to take flight, of our roots not being firmly planted here. With much prayer and thought, we found a new spiritual home, and as our hearts became still, settled and at home, the possibility of spreading our wings and taking flight lessened. Home is so much more than the tangible walls around us, and it is helpful to remember that as the search for a new physical home keeps on going. We can be at home wherever we are, and I cannot wait for John to return from Japan, to come home.