The power cables creak outside on the front of the house just outside my living room window on the second floor. I’ve always thought if the wind blew a fraction harder, they might just pop right off.
But they never have. That’s good.
Mail thuds on the floor in the stairwell downstairs, the metal cover of the mail slot clanking behind it. That used to scare me to death, circa fall 2010, when it would break the crystal silence that is my London suburb.
It doesn’t scare me anymore.
I’m laying here, working on a story, embracing the quiet. For a moment, I’m home – the house that’s become familiar over the last year and a half. I don’t jump in the night anymore when I hear the whines of Nigel the refrigerator. I’ve made my peace with Hermann the mouse (and sent him away). I love the sound of my downstairs neighbor cooing over her niece on the days she babysits. I can sense the feeling of a bus squeezing its way down the street behind me and step further away on the sidewalk without even looking.
The past two months or so, I’ve been here very little. I’ve hopped between five countries, sometimes not sleeping in between or having less than 24 hours in England in between arriving from one and leaving for another. I pulled three currencies out of my wallet in a convenience store in Switzerland (a queue backing up behind me) before finding coins she’d actually take. I don’t think she was amused.
But today, as I lay here in my pajamas wondering if it’s real mail or a flier for Golden Curry that came through the post slot, I know I’m home.
Home. It feels good.
But then there’s home. The one I spent 18 years in, with the non-cordless (cord?) phone on the kitchen wall that no one untangles until I come home and do it. The one where my amazing parents have lived my entire life. The one with the gummy residue still slightly visible (probably just to me) on the shower tile where I tried to label everything with Spanish words after my trip to Honduras.
In mid-December, I got an unexpected email from someone dear to me from way back asking if they could give me a ticket to spend Christmas at home with the whole family, who were coming from all corners of the Southeast to Mom and Dad’s as we’ve always done (it’s just getting more difficult as we spread out).
Tears ran down my cheeks.
I was headed home, where we would sit around talking for hours, Mom would read the Christmas story and we’d have mattresses so close together on the floor folks can barely get around.
And then Lauren, Myles and Scooter surprised me by showing up in Mississippi. Being tackled by a wooly westie in a Christmas scarf, that felt like home, too. I spent years at that little house in Alabama with a little white face waiting for us to get home from work every day.
And then there’s the kind of home that I feel when I’m with my college friends, the four-girls-to-a-room kind of home, from four blessed years at the alma mater.
So basically, in a way I have no idea what home is anymore. But in another way, I feel like I am closer to knowing what home feels like than I ever have. This nomadic life, wandering from place to place, trying to invest as much as you can in the moment before you have to move on … it’s tiring … but sometimes when I stop I realize the Father is trying to teach me something … some more about what life here is meant to look like.
None of this is our home. We all are nomads here. Maybe this kind of lifestyle was the only way that lesson would sink into my hard head.
One day in Switzerland, I sat on the floor of my room reading a book about a girl who, at 19, gives up an affluent life and paid-for college in Tennessee to move to Uganda, where she takes in hurting children, eventually getting sponsors for hundreds and adopting 14 as her own daughters. Building a comfortable life wasn’t squaring with what she saw in Scripture so, plain and simple, she said …
“I quit my life.”
I read those words and just sat there for a moment. “God, it would be hard to move to Uganda,” I said aloud.
But as I watched the snow twirl outside the window and felt the wrestling within me, I heard Him say, “Just what would be hard about it? What is it you don’t want to leave … this room in Switzerland?”
I looked around me and realized this was “home” for this week … a few sets of clothes and toiletries, my laptop, Bible and camera. I had already nestled into this place that wasn’t really my home, just like I’d done the week before in England, the week before that in Estonia, before that in America, the list goes on and on.
Comfort seems to be achieved effortlessly and hangs on with a vengeance. Dying to ourselves has to happen daily, with difficulty. I’m definitely not saying I’m moving to Uganda, but I know He is at work on the sense of entitlement I have that seems to never want to die.
And He spoke again, “Will you come?”
I don’t know what the future holds or where it leads, and I know I will fail hard in my own weaknesses … but I also know that, no matter the cost, and no matter how many times I stumble along the way, I want my roots shallow in the world and deep in Him … whatever that takes.
I want Him to be home.