What makes a home?

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"My House drawing, front side" by -Lori- / Creative Commons

Home. Before your mind jumps to the physical and metaphorical meanings of this loaded word, try saying it slowly out loud. Or, if you are reading this in public, you could whisper quietly. Home. Do you feel how your lips come together and apart like a kiss? Try it again. Home.

I love the idea that we offer a kiss to the world every time we say this word. Regardless of the physical appearance of where you hang your clothes and lay your head, home should be a place where you are cared for and loved.

I am writing from my home where I have worked during much of the pandemic. My “office” is really just a desk in the bedroom I share with my wife. When I sat down to write this morning, I saw that a toy monster truck was waiting on top of my laptop, a little surprise from my 3-year-old daughter.

On the same desk, I keep a picture of my daughter with her two big brothers. They pose on their scooters, all three sporting big smiles beneath their helmets. This photo was snapped by my wife on the sidewalk in front of our home, the very spot I can look down upon from my desk through the second-floor window. Next to this picture of our kids is a birthday card from my beloved that reads, “My Heart Has Found Its Home with You.” Every time I look at this message, it makes me smile.

In a few moments, I’ll get up from my writing desk and head downstairs. I’ll notice the permanent marker scrawled on the wall and the chipped paint in the corner. There will be Legos and Pokémon cards strewn across the floor like paint on a Jackson Pollock canvas. There will be dirty dishes in the sink that are my responsibility to clean.

Downstairs, I will also see my loved ones, the people who fill this house with mad messes and silly songs, energy and elbows, tears and laughter, hugs and kisses. That is home to me.

Many philosophies and religions teach that there is much beyond our control. It is also true that we make decisions about what we value and cherish. As an ancient spiritual teacher put it, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21).

Like slowly saying a word, I want to savor all my treasures — every little surprise, grace note and gift of affection. There are many ways to say “home.”

Andrew Taylor-Troutman is the pastor of Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian Church. His newly-published book is a collection of his columns for the Chatham News + Record titled “Hope Matters: Churchless Sermons.”


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