To me home, you are sometimes a funny old thing. Which town to put as ‘home’ on social media when you have moved from place to place? Where you are living currently, where you were born, where you spent secondary school (if you managed constancy during these years?)
I haven’t got the foggiest which postcode I belong to. Place attachment feels about as definite as my grandfather’s birthplace in ‘the cottages near the village pub’.
I’m certainly not from round here. After all this particular physical house was only ever intended to be a temporary, rental stepping stone towards a house that is for the first time fully ours. But temporary has turned into three years and onward progress sees patient patience hanging on by a thread at times.
We have found ourselves in but not of the community. Partly through choice we have not invested time and energy in getting to know people in the neighbourhood that well. We assumed we would sneak in unobtrusively and move on fairly quickly. A kerfuffle with the front door lock when we moved in lured Bob at No.1 and his watchful eye over the road to investigate.
When I was young, unafraid and newly married I knew that an itinerant lifestyle was on the cards with the Scotsman going into church ministry. Then I found the prospect tantalising, going where God was leading and all the great, exciting things that would follow. It didn't take long for that bubble to burst because the child-like expectations I had in the early days of marriage were actually quite childish and soon developed into demands that others would somehow fulfil long buried unhappiness I didn't know I had buried as I was growing up.
Years have taught me that I really don’t like moving that much. Along the way I have lost confidence when it comes to making new friendships, trying to break into familiar, long established circles. I have also resented friends whose children have had lifelong friends because they have lived in one place - their way looks easy and mine hard especially when I have compared and not been grateful.
It is still all where God has been leading, just not what I envisaged it would be all those years ago.
We are all slowly but surely taking the long way home.
This evening I’m following the poet Ian McMillan’s (@IMcMillan) tortuously slow but poetic train journey home this evening via twitter “Back to Manchester. I left here at 1820. Still, time's an elastic concept. Going home via Huddersfield.” Yep, Huddersfield has been one of our staging posts along the way too.
Stability and home have been the greatest gifts to me from those who know and love me for who I am. Jesus, family, friends, a safe stronghold, the Kingdom and not a building of bricks or stone.
Most of all a place where no-one has to impress anyone.
I had a work colleague who recounted how a leading actress in a TV series once used the loo in her house while filming was taking place in the area. The nub of the story was not that someone famous had peed in her loo but that the cat being in charge of all the comings and goings had been keeping a firm beady eye on all the proceeedings in the bathroom. An observation not lost on the actress either. (Lateral thinking led me back to this particular story because the TV series was ‘Where the heart is’. Home ..)
At the end of the day it’s the little ordinary things like this that really matter. The outworking of home in the every day and in the heart.
For the record on facebook I use the Midlands town where I went to secondary school as ‘home’ even though I was born in the South East and we and all of our children have lived in both the South and the North of England. Very soon we hope to become bone fide adopted northerners as we will own cobbles!
As far as I know I have never been watched by a cat while on the loo.