Home: Place, Space, Sanctuary, or…

31 March 2011


Free Fall: My winter flowering begonia, 2011


Most people do not live in the home of their childhood. Many of us have moved more than a handful of times. We’re able to recall rooms that sing with memories that might be sadly sweet, heavenly joyous, heartbreaking, or just plain comfortable. So what makes a house a home?

For me home is where the memories keep multiplying. Home is where the emotions are stored for retrieval. Home is where we go for retreat. Home is the space that we create to please our own predilections. Home is our chamber of thanksgiving. Home is our internal integrity—our center of wellbeing: True home points inward, helping to push disappointments aside.

But home is not the same for everyone. One person’s home is another’s unwelcoming space. And how often do we remember that first home as sanctuary or just a distant nesting place?

Most of us will live in numerous homes in our lifetime. Some by choice; others by necessity or coercion. Some homes will feel estranged, un-wanting, un-friendly. While others open their spaces to our every whim.

Some of us live in our spaces with indifference—similar to relationships in our lives. We parade around as if it didn’t matter, but more often than not we want more.

Two of my family homes have vaporized, gone, non-existent (again similar to relationships in our lives). That’s not unusual in our disposal society where new is (supposedly) better. My memories keep a semblance of my childhood home reappearing on certain occasions. But does it matter that I cannot reconstruct (mentally) each room, or move (physically) from room to room with accuracy?

Other memories can reveal every room where my children spent their early years–years spent in the same town where we currently live. Their first sanctuary was filled with pockets of security, which created their early adventures, discoveries and friendships.

Homes can be shadows of broken families, centers of frivolity, hearts of kindness, places of angst or forgiveness, and altars of worship. Mostly, they are our creations: our place to be who we are and want to be. Note:

On February 28, 2006, I wrote:

The realization hit me with less than cautious emotion. The family home, where my children flourished, was gone, leveled. My feelings were leveled too; I could hardly function with the aftershocks. An abundance of images swept through my internal viewing room.

In the late 1960s we moved to the center of a University town and our “first” house. My son was six months old. Four years later we placed our daughter in her first out-of-the-womb sanctuary.

Although we have lived in too many homes since that initial abode, it was a place of particular exuberance and vivid memories. Now we live on the west end of the same town, and occasionally I find myself passing the very spot where my young exited their nests.

To pass the house is not a normal route for my daily excursions, but ever so often I am driving down the road that leads my past into the present. When I saw the plot of land covered in straw, our “evaporated” house became ever so alive in my mind. That home was more than a first resting place; it was the center of a neighborhood that was a complete community, which people can only dream about today. Friends sprouted, and people shored each other’s daily journey. The tree-lined street had a certain charm and flavor—the taste of an extended family.

This entry was posted in Family Matters, Human Nature, Photography. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Home: Place, Space, Sanctuary, or…

  1. A lovely reflection on how homes shift and change in their meaning for us and our families.

    Thanks for sharing!

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