My parents bought a home in the country after marrying. Almost 60 years later you wouldn’t recognize the place. The lengthy gravel driveway I ran barefoot is buried under burning asphalt. The mulberry tree, turning our fingers purple, was cut down decades ago. Corncrib tunnels I climbed, peeking through wooden slats, was taken by tornado. The pier where I took my first blind leap is gone. Despite a million changes, it still breathes a scent of home for me.
We’ve lived in our home 20 years. With the exception of our first tainted, teenage year of marriage I’ve lived on the same road my whole life. I know where snowdrifts mound in winter, the hour afternoon shade hits back patio, when to expect neighbors home from work.
Entering this house, wedding rings and chapstick drop into the same cereal-bowl-sized basket piling dental floss and motion sickness lozenges. Gray striped pillows and throw strewn across the couch like an unmade bed. Cell phone plugs in and shoulders power down. The front door shuts like a line no one can cross unless invited. It’s private. My things are near, I’m covered here.
Knowing we’ll be back lets us out like homing pigeons, doesn’t it? No matter where we go, doesn’t matter how far the distance—or short the stay, the heart is set on returning to its nest.
It’s painfully familiar to be home.
We don’t always get to pick our homes. Sometimes our settings shift and our homes pick us. Sometimes circumstances hit, hard, and we’re locked in a home we never imagined our hearts living.
Pastor Corey Buchanan is Executive Director for Chicagoland Prison Outreach where David volunteers. As a young man Corey was incarcerated. With few personal items, he was confined to concrete conditions and steel bars. Three whole years…prison was home. Attending the Life Learning Program Corey found the home his heart had been hammering for all along. Still caged by consequence—he walked a freed man.
Corey and his wife, Tiffany, ride in the backseat on our double-date to a concert. When these two fellas get together, the men they serve start at the top of their love list of things to talk about. David is hurting for a disheartened inmate whose cell got flipped in a random search. Yeah, it’s difficult, Corey’s voice fades—remembering when home was a shockingly public space.
David met Beatrice on a missions trip to Kenya. She lives in a 10 x 10 tin hut with her infant twins in the Mathare Valley. A single, salvaged painting completes her decor. Her cot stacks cooking utensils by day, ten others share her recycled sheet of linoleum by night. She welcomes missionaries in her home with a glowing smile and a worn, Swahili bible in her hand.
Home is not where the heart is—home lives in our hearts.
Home is knit within. Inward parts home-made. Assembled in secret—stamped in glory. To the Potter who formed this pulpy heart—we are forever drawn.
Moving heavy appliances, tables, and chairs our oak floors needed refinishing. Before that, dulling, birch cabinets were recycled and new hickory installed. Window trim was peeling and doors were warping. Nothing is here to stay, all we see rusts away. Roof and walls is just enough to comfort the senses, but the heart still groans for an unidentified address. Our loan heart pines from whence it came and will not relent until it arrives. Until reclothed in unblemished residence, its holy habitation—permanent citizenship.
No matter where we live—a Gold Coast apartment, a rural two-story, a prison cell, or a shanty in the slums of Nairobi—our heart compass points toward home.
People like Corey and Beatrice turn the key of contentment. Void of comfort, they reclined comfortably. Apart from stability, they stood wholly stable—because when our heart dwells in the house of Lord, we behold the beauty of the Lord. When our days are repeatedly troubled, our heart rests hidden under His pavilion—found and framed high upon a rock.