We moved over the weekend. This means, of course, that I do not know the location of my favorite brush, or the mustard. And I write to you under the influence of a strong sleep aid (dear Lord, may this post not be too delirious). Each day we ingratiate ourselves to new things – the new shower heads and water heater settings, or the new angle of the sun through the kitchen window in the morning.
And, as we unpack, surrounding ourselves with the artifacts and images of history, we call this new house ‘home’. But that word –home – comes out of our mouths like shards of dried molasses. We’re wise enough to know that this new place will be home over time. But we just left the home of our hearts. It was a good decision. It was time. But wow, we did not want to leave.
I just said goodbye to the home that held our lives for the first five years of our marriage. That home held goodness and struggle and negotiations and arguments and redemption and a blending of family, dogs and chickens. I have come to know more of my great step-daughters, discovering their nuanced and glorious ways, in our sun-drenched living room. A young man with no home told us his story there, agreeing to work for us, saving up money for a bus ride back to his home state so that he would not have to hitchhike and be vulnerable to prostituting himself at truck stops. We opened Christmas presents in that room. That room was a balm to me as we wept and prayed on the floor, confused and befuddled by a string of broken and redirected dreams. I answered my cell phone in that room when Carole called to tell me Ryan had died. Steve and I cut our wedding cake in the far corner.
“The Pinal House” has been a place of refuge for me. The elegant sway of our Eastern Elm, the shade of the Cedar in the high Colorado sun, and the tiered rock wall (built by the WPA in the 1940s) filled with roses, have all been a balm to me after trekking through the underbelly of peoples’ lives and harm. There’s nothing better, after fending off the demons that track the heart through the complexities of sexual abuse, than having a chicken follow you so you will stroke her feathers, or picking raspberries.
One of the crowning glories of this home has been the birds. Nestled against the foothills of the Rockies, and surrounded by glorious mature trees (100 years+), it is a haven for migrating flocks as well as some of the more rare local birds. Jesus brought glimpses of the other world to our birdfeeder or bushes. “Shhh,” Jesus would say. “Look, Jan. Don’t you love her? Do you see how much I love you?”
This happened particularly through the glory of the lazuli bunting. Here is what she looks like:
Gorgeous, right? Two lazuli buntings made appearances on our property over the past five years, but their unveiling was precise – every time. If the weariness of war, the long road of unrealized hope, or stinging grief proved too much – those little wonders showed up and found me gasping at the window.
Our decision to move was made after cumulative seasons of loss, so I found myself pulling against the bit and reigns of change like a horse who just doesn’t want to head to the stall. The brilliant blue in the bunting settled me down; told me it was okay.
Even still, I was convinced that when we moved to a new ecosystem (across town but truly a world away), I would lose the bunting sightings.
Well, this morning I woke up in this new-house-which-maybe-will-be-truly-home-over-time place, and as I stumbled outside with my coffee, the gasp was louder than ever. There were seven – SEVEN – lazuli buntings, perched on bushes, wires, walls and playfully bantering in the air.
So let me move carefully with this. What is not being said here is that, when we lose something, we can always predict that what we lose will be restored seven-fold on this earth. Try telling that to a fourteen-year-old who is taken from his parents due to their drug habit, only to be put in a poorly chosen foster home in which abuse occurs.
No, what is being said is, simply, our hearts hold the truest Home at all times. There is a place between The Home we remember and the Home we dream (Buechner), and that place is this life. Someone chiseled a poem once out of the granite of harsh days, and it held the familiar words “Lord, you have been our home through every generation.”
If that is true, then we have to unpack. And we get to be surprised.
Jan Meyers Proett has been a counselor for over twenty years and is the author of The Allure of Hope, Listening to Love, and Beauty and the Bitch: Grace for the Worst in Me, and most recently The Dogeagram, Understanding the Mystery of Dogs:(and occasional mocking of their humans). She has worked on behalf of exploited women internationally, but also loves the trails of Colorado, where she lives with her husband, Steve. Find Jan on Instagram and at her Facebook author page, and her blog.