Home is where the heart is.
Home is not a place, it’s a feeling.
A house is made of walls and beams, a home is built with love and dreams.
(And, of course) Home sweet home.
Platitudes? Perhaps. But what may seem overly sentimental is what we yearn for in a home—a place of comfort, expression, warmth, understanding, love, hope, and shelter. An ideal home is a refuge, a haven, a sanctuary that provides safety and protection, a shelter in more ways than one. Our home can be an expression of our personality and values. We bring our whole self into a house and make it a home.
On day 50-something of “sheltering at home,” I am grateful for the roof over our head and all that our home provides us. Our current home is the result of “packing lightly” and “crossing the threshold”, themes from The Soul of a Pilgrim by Christine Valters Paintner.
“The journey of pilgrimage is about returning home with a new awareness of what home really means.”—The Soul of a Pilgrim
Five years ago, my husband and I put our house up for sale with no idea what we were going to do when it sold. It was an adventure—kind of exciting, a little scary, but certainly a threshold opportunity to see what our next step would be. We went through a process of considering what we really needed, what we would keep, what would be given away or sold, what might be tucked away in storage until we knew more decisively what we would do.
Some essential questions to consider in “The Practice of Packing Lightly” are: What would create more lightness in your life? What can you let go of to pack more lightly?
We knew the home we had lived in for nine years was not the place we wanted to be forever. Coming to that decision did not happen overnight. We had tossed it around, tabled it, brought it back up…but finally decided that we had been standing at the threshold of this decision for far too long. For us it came down to two issues: we did not need as much space or stuff and we wanted to have more free time to spend on things we loved, not just working on, or thinking about, household projects.
It felt right to let go of an attachment to our house and our things to see what might be in store for us. We were brought to a threshold, a clearing out of the old, and were ready to move into the uncertainty that lied ahead.
A voice comes to your soul saying,
Lift your foot. Cross over.
Move into emptiness of question and answer and question.
—Rumi, The Glance
“The LORD said to Abram: Go forth from your land, your relatives, and from your father’s house to a land that I WILL show you. I WILL make of you a great nation, and I WILL bless you; I WILL make your name great, so that you WILL be a blessing.”—Genesis 12:1-3
In the story of Abram and Sarai (Genesis 12:1-9; The Soul of a Pilgrim, Chapter 2), they are guided to a new life in an unknown and distant land. When practicing Lectio Divina with this story, I imagine the couple had a sense of loss at leaving their familiar home, but that they also desired an adventure, something new. Despite mixed feelings, they were open to hearing the blessings God promised, they trusted God’s will.
What God WILL do for them is hopeful, promising, future-focused. That God WILL show, make, and bless signifies a promise that requires patience and hope for a time of in-between. At this threshold, Abram and Sarai are invited to be a blessing themselves. They choose to go through the door.
Letting something go is an opportunity for something new to come in.
“When we embark on an intentional journey like a pilgrimage, we are making a commitment to live in the space of threshold. Threshold is the liminal place, the place of not knowing how things will turn out. I believe it is the place of possibility.” —Christine Valters Painter, The Soul of a Pilgrim
During the in-between time, after we sold our house but before we moved into a newly built townhouse, I created a SoulCollage card called Home: Where God Is. I discovered I was attached to very little (except my boxes of books) and that where I am connected to Source, I am home. God dwells within. Trusting myself and trusting God is a great adventure. Being at home with myself is the truest home.
“…the doors to the world of Wild Woman are few but precious.
If you have a deep scar, that is a door,
if you have an old, old story, that is a door.
If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door.
If you yearn for a deeper life a full life, a sane life, that is a door.”
–Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves
The following prayer song expresses a desire to be led by God, to become detached from what is outside of us and to be aware of the God who dwells within:
Journeying god, pitch your tent with mine
so that I may not become deterred
by hardship, strangeness, doubt.
Show me the movement I must make
toward a wealth not dependent on possessions,
toward a wisdom not based on books,
toward a strength not bolstered by might,
toward a god not confined to heaven.
Help me to find myself as I walk in other’s shoes.
–prayer song from Ghana, traditional (cited in The Soul of a Pilgrim)
The prayer ends with a call to action— to walk in another’s shoes, to practice hospitality of the heart. While we are “sheltering at home,” we can contemplate how others are being impacted by this pandemic. I can learn about and pray for others in facing challenging circumstances.
Consider these prompts about packing lightly, crossing thresholds, and creating home in your creative prayer practice by journaling or creating a SoulCollage® card:
What would create more lightness in my life? What can I let go of to pack more lightly? What threshold am I ready to face? What doorway am I ready to go through? What does home mean to me? How can I provide hospitality while “sheltering in place”? What doorway can I open for others?
Feel free to share in the comments.
Naked Before God, The Soul of a Pilgrim
The Soul of a Pilgrim: A Benedictine Pilgrimage, part 1
Let all guests who arrive be received as Christ: Hospitality and The Holy Trinity
A Constant Companion by Fr. Mauritius Wilde
© Jodi Blazek Gehr