Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Home

One thing I’ve learned for sure living in Tinseltown is that all that glitters ain’t gold.

The “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

I used to be envious of those people with multiple addresses you’d read about in Town and Country. “Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Astorbutt of New York, Palm Beach, and Nantucket announce the engagement of their daughter Abigail to Mr. Gregory Q. Gottrocks, IV, son of Mr. and Mrs. Gregory Q. Gottrocks, III of Washington, D.C., Martha’s Vineyard, and Paris, France.”

Or movie stars you’d read about in People: “Brangelina (or whoever) just purchased a $22.5 million villa on the Cote d’Azur. They also have residences in Beverly Hills, New York, and a 2,500 acre spread in Wyoming...”

Well, Mrs. F. Brooks Arnold of Athens, Georgia, Los Angeles, and Pomona, California thinks they might be crazy.

***************

As is usually the case, the reality is far removed from the illusion. The vagabond life is not as carefree as it seems. You can’t just call Mayflower and have the movers show up each time a change in locale is necessitated. Personal belongings are strewn across the country. In this constant state of flux, just getting dressed in the morning poses a challenge. Throwing on a pair of pants in Athens, I realize that the only belt that works with them is still in Pomona. The shoes with the right heel height are in LA. In LA, I get dressed for church on a cold day, and go to grab my coat before running out the door. No coat in that closet. God only knows where the lipliner that matches that shade of lipstick is hiding. Probably in a purse in the pile on the closet floor in Georgia. And forget keeping up with little things like glasses and phone chargers and checkbooks.

Books are probably the worst, though. I’m usually messing around in 5 or 6 at a time. There are a few that are like security blankets...I lug them around with me wherever I go just in case I need a quick fix of Mr. Lewis or Dame Julian or Brennan Manning. Old friends.

It gets heavy carting all this stuff around.

I constantly feel unsettled, scattered, fragmented.

Even a little homesick.

It’s strange that I can manage to feel that way wherever I happen to be at the time. When I’m in California, I miss Athens. When I’m in Athens, I can’t wait to get back to California. I feel like the curious Rum Tum Tugger in T. S. Eliot’s Cats:

The Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat:
If you offer him pheasant he would rather have grouse.
If you put him in a house he would much prefer a flat,
If you put him in a flat then he'd rather have a house...
The Rum Tum Tugger is a terrible bore:

When you let him in, then he wants to be out;
He's always on the wrong side of every door,
And as soon as he's at home, then he'd like to get about.

No matter where I am, there’s always someone to miss...and something missing.

Shortly after Katherine’s AVM rupture, our wise friend Howard said to Brooks, “Well, you can be miserable both places. When you’re in Athens, you can worry about Katherine. When you’re in California, you can worry about Grace!” (She was finishing up high school last spring.) I guess you have to know Howard to get this...it was actually a subtle reminder that we all need to trust more, worry less. I think he was also offering empathy for that feeling of being ripped apart that parents occasionally suffer.

The experience of the past 11 months has crystallized a thought for me:

I want to learn to live more lightly.

I want to be less weighed down by baggage of every kind...less “possessed by my possessions.” I want to get rid of STUFF. I want to clean out all my closets...both tangible and intangible. Like the detritus in the pile going to Goodwill, I want to lay down things like worry and expectations and bondage to old habits and thought patterns. I want to live more freely, less attached to this world and its systems and its junk. I want to be less entrenched here.

I’ve been trying to clean out one closet at home for years. I (abashedly) admit that it is larger than my bedroom in LA. I was standing in it the last time I was home, utterly confounded about where to begin. I must have rolled my eyes to the heavens in desperation. An old Victorian sampler perched on the top shelf caught my eye: “Heaven Is My Home.”

...a subtle reminder that this is not my natural habitat.

We are as ‘strangers and aliens’ on this earth.

Because of that, I think we must carry a little homesickness with us wherever we are. We will always have a secret ache for that place where we feel completely safe, loved, protected, and fully known. Those places simply don’t last on earth. People die...houses crumble.

As C.S. Lewis expresses it: “The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world...We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God...Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.” (The Problem of Pain)

Heaven is my home?

Surely it is my destination.

But what about now? How do I banish those feelings of homesickness here...before I arrive at my true home, where every tear will be wiped away?

This is where I feel the most at home now:

I lie in bed, with a pillow over my face. I still myself and shut out all the loud voices in my head. I inhale, slowly, the peace of God. I exhale the unrelenting demands of Self. I invite. I wait. And sometimes wait a while longer. Maybe I need to confess something first, get rid of a barrier.

And He comes.

He in me and I in Him.

“Abide* in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.....As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.” (from John 15)

He is my home.

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(*dwell, live)

After beginning these thoughts on “home,” I happened to run across this excerpt from the writings of Brennan Manning. He is one of my favorites, and Katherine and I were privileged to hear him speak at Belair Presbyterian a couple of years (different lifetime) ago. When the crowd gave him a standing ovation, he turned around and lifted his arms in homage to the large cross behind him.

“Jesus says simply, “make your home in me, as I make mine in you.” Home is not a heavenly mansion in the afterlife, but a safe place right in the midst of our anxious world...
Home is that sacred place-external or internal- where we don’t have to be afraid, were we are confident of hospitality and love. In our society we have not only many homeless people sleeping on the streets...but also vagabonds who are in flight, who never come home to themselves. They seek a safe place through alcohol or drugs, or security in success, competence, friends, pleasure, notoriety, knowledge, or even a little religion. They have become strangers to themselves, people who have an address but are never home, who never hear the voice of love or experience the freedom of God’s children. To those of us who are in flight, who are afraid to turn around lest we run into ourselves, Jesus says: “You have a home...I am your home...claim me as your home...you will find it to be the intimate place where I have found my home...it is right where you are...in your innermost being...in your heart."


Amen.

9 comments:

tatiana said...

Amen.

mdavis said...

Kim,
Thank you for your comments. I read them like a devotional.
Love and prayers,
Mary Ford Davis

Leslie said...

At a very different level...my young son and I just finished reading "Little House on the Prairie". At the end of the book, Pa realizes they must move. He tells Ma that they are moving in the morning. All they own is packed (again) in the back of their wagon and they drive away forever...less than 12 hours later. I can't imagine packing my house and leaving in just 12 hours. Oh, that I could live as simply as that.

Thank you for your insight on this.

Brenda See said...

Kim,

Another good book is "All the Way to Heaven is Heaven." I don't have the author's name before me, but she was a writer for Guideposts who was not a believer at first, but discovered Jesus and it transformed her life. I like the title a lot.

As always, thank you for sharing.

terrie, jackson, lexie said...

The author is Elizabeth Sherrill...

Russ said...

Absolutely perfect. Wouldn't change a word or a comma. You are a brilliant, wonderful writer and I am thrilled to "finally" :) get to hear your thoughts on home. I've shared them with Mary because she too is homesick here, and homesick in England. I KNOW this will be an encouragement. I love the lewis quote...what a wonderful thing to consider...the the Lord allows us to enjoy ecstasy and inns but never mistake this life for the eternal one. It is so hard now that I have experienced the ECSTASY of being a mother to not wish that I could have another day, moment, lifetime with Charlotte. (Maybe when she's a teen I'll long for Heaven more?! I'm sure mom did!!) But I must always remember the joy here is only a shadow... We are praying for you all...and looking forward to seeing you again. I'm so thankful you are sharing this experience with us. Your words are like salve to the heart! We love you! Christine and Russ

Linda Abney said...

Dear, dear friend,
You know, I believe that the two joyful things we can have on earth(besides the presence of Jesus) are family and friends. They each allow us to be who we are so they can support us when support is needed. And, support is often needed. We are praying for each of you and hope you will do the same for us. We fly to England tomorrow for Mary and Alan's wedding. I feel a bit like the Clampets as I see 21 bags ready to load. Most are the things Mary packed before she left for us to bring, some are our necessities and some are to entertain Charlotte. Pray that we will get there still sane and still family.
Hugs, Linda

Elizabeth said...

Hi Mrs. Arnold,
You dont know me, but I follow Katherine's site and your blog. As I was reading what you last wrote, this song kept coming to mind - It's called "CS Lewis Song" and it's by Brooke Fraser (looks like there should be an "i" in Fraser, but there isn't). I will post the words here, but the song is beautiful if you want to go to "You Tube" and listen, you know since you are all "up" with technology now.

CS Leiws Song
by Brooke Faser

If i find in myself desires nothing in this world can satisfy,
I can only conclude that I was not made for here
If the flesh that i fight is at best only light and momentary,
then ofcourse I'll feel nude when to where I'm destined I'm compared

[CHORUS]
Speak to me in the light of the dawn
Mercy comes with the morning
I will sigh and with all creation groan as I wait for hope to come for me

Am i lost or just found? On the straight or on the roundabout of the wrong way?
is this a soul that stirs in me, is it breaking free, wanting to come alive?
Cos my comfort would prefer for me to be numb
An avoid the impending birth of who I was born to become

Speak to me in the light of the dawn
Mercy comes with the morning
I will sigh and with all creation groan as I wait for hope to come for me


For we, we are not long here
Our time is but a breath, so we better breathe it
And I, I was made to live, I was made to love, I was made to know you
Hope is coming for me
Hope, He's coming

Still Praying for you all!

KR said...

Up late doing research, came across this paragraph at the end of an article on the heart...this bit on the brain immediately made me think of Katherine (I don't know her..just pray for all of you) Hope this just solidifies your belief that GOD can do anything...science is just catching on...Hope it blesses you....
"A study published in the March 30 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that in cats, brain cells can be restored after neurological damage by adding more insulation called myelin to neurons.

Myelin, a fatty insulator of nerve fibers that degrades in many human central nervous system disorders such as multiple sclerosis, increases the speed at which neurons can function.

In the cats, if myelin was restored to cells that had lost it, they were able to regain their lost functions.

"The fundamental point of the study is that it proves unequivocally that extensive remyelination can lead to recovery from a severe neurological disorder," said Ian Duncan, a University of Wisconsin-Madison neuroscientist who led the research. "It indicates the profound ability of the central nervous system to repair itself."

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