Friday, September 2, 2011
We'd been eager to learn more about the former occupants of our house so on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon Paul and I took a walk over to our local historical society and learned about a woman who had roots.
Our home was built in 1908 by a machinist and his wife who gave birth to a daughter named Mamie. Mamie remained in this house for her entire life. She outlived four husbands, gave birth to twelve children, worked for a time as a floral designer, wrote poetry and had a strong Christian faith. I can feel Mamie's spirit in my home and in my heart, for I too, worked briefly as a floral designer, I like to write poetry, and I have a strong Christian faith. Maybe it was no accident that God planted me in this particular earthly home and maybe His intention was for me to carry on the work of the woman who went before me in this space.
When Mamie died, our house was sold to a man who owned it briefly before it came into our hands. Paul and I are the third owners of a house that is over 100 years old and we have lived in our home for nearly 20 years. In that time most of our neighbors have remained the same. There's something safe and comforting about knowing who belongs to which house; about knowing your neighbors.
I look out the window and I see a dreary, run-down city neighborhood; but I see more than that. I see faithfulness, longevity, and staying power. In a world where everybody seems to be in a hurry to go somewhere new and different, frantically changing homes, jobs, and spouses, traveling to distant lands, leaving friends and family, parishes and religions, I stay. So many long to shake the dust from their sandals and go in search of greener pastures and new beginnings, hoping that life is better somewhere else.
But I stay. I take comfort in routine and sameness. Everyday I wake to the same husband in the same house and go to Mass at the same church followed by a day at the same job working for the same boss. Yes, wanderlust has affected me from time to time and I think about leaving, about change, but it always passes quickly before I can act upon it. My husband has often longed to move from our address and find a new and better home in a bigger and brighter neighborhood. But fear of change keeps me rooted.
I watch the world swirl and change around me. Each morning my children arrive downstairs rubbing the sleep from their eyes and I notice how they've grown while resting. Soon, they will be walking out the door into adulthood. Each day more and more of my friends move on to new jobs, new challenges, and new life. I notice that many people leave the church and their faith and I grieve at so much empty space in the pews. But I stay.
My feet are fixed fast to the floorboards and my heart is firmly planted in this home and in this life of blessings which God has given me. Yet my soul... my soul does have a longing for its heavenly home. Nothing here on earth can come close to the joy that I know awaits me in His eternal home. Why should I look for it here on earth? A vacation to far off places would all too soon come to an end. A new home and a new job all come with their own sets of problems and challenges. And the pain that replaces the presence of a friend who moves on, I know that too, and I fight against it. So I stay.
And here I will stubbornly remain until He comes and gently takes me by the hands and leads me to my new life in eternity where I will be forever rooted in bliss. And there I will find the same friends and family that I loved here on earth, those who wandered away from me for a time and for whom I mourned. We will once again be reunited in our permanent heavenly home. And there I know I will meet Mamie, a kindred spirit who for a time was rooted in the same earthly space to which I currently belong. My roots are planted in this house, it's true, but my heart and soul soar to the heavens and the hope that lies in the staying power of His eternal kingdom.