What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.
~ T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”
The men are laying new vinyl today. “Do you want the seam here… or there?” asks the one in charge.
And I’m thinking, I don’t care. I won’t be living with it. This will no longer my home. I’m losing my sense of home. I’m already separating from it like a dying person begins to separate from the present life.
But I ask what he thinks, and he says if we run the seam east to west, we need to walk across it, but north to south is less obtrusive. I notice that where the old vinyl is lifting (and where I often trip) is running east to west.
“It sounds good to me. You’re the expert,” I say. And I retreat to the sofa, out of the way. This is my now. Jumbled up and torn up. With messes and delays. Interruptions and separation. Decisions and more decisions. Fast food and doughnuts. Grieving and anticipation.
Nothing is working seamlessly. This is not the original crew that was to lay the flooring. But the first day was postponed because somebody’s grandfather died. The next day someone quit, and there was a scramble for a backup. Now we need to postpone the carpet installation, and other projects need to be realigned and reassigned. The time clock is running, and I can’t envision what my not yet might look like.
I moved from palm trees to maple trees on a tidal wave of gratitude.
~Christie Purifoy, Roots and Sky
I’m trying not to be jealous of Maplehurst, of Christie’s coming home. Because we are leaving home. We’re leaving our 150-year-old-plus farmhouse, my husband’s childhood home, where he brought me to meet his parents 45 years ago, where we replanted our roots over 25 years ago since moving back to Michigan.
My heart hurt when my inlaws sold this house. Who knew we’d one day redeem it?
We’ve eaten the eggs of Light Brahmas. We’ve raised Lamancha goats and Polish rabbits. We’ve loved Labradors and Havanese, millions of cats—and lots of kids besides our own. I’ve hung clothes on a line, planted a few gardens, pulled not enough weeds, and rocked on the wraparound porch. I’ve seen the sun peek over the rim of the eastern bowl and slide into the west. I’ve gotten tipsy on the fragrance of lilacs and peonies. I’ve watched corn sway, soybeans spread, and wheat ripple. I’ve watched deer in the field and chased a coyote for a photo shoot. I’ve witnessed the changes of autumn, the stillness of winter, the promise of spring, and the harvest of summer. I’ve chased wonder in my yard.
I suppose to chase wonder is to find yourself in unexpected places.
~Christie Purifoy, Roots and Sky
I never expected to leave, and surely never expected to return to Florida where we adopted our first child. But now we’re splitting the family, heading for a whole different lifestyle, a new brand of hospitality–though I don’t know what that will look like. We’re not retiring. My husband has accepted a new position in South Florida and is already gone, leaving me behind to supervise and finish updates we’d already begun prior to this transfer, before we can list the house.
My stomach rumbles with a seasonal collision of change and waiting and seeding and harvest.
We are leaving maple trees for palm trees.
My daughter’s home burned last year, a modular situated on our farm, just across the field. We’ve given it away, and it’s being prepped to move. “After a year, they’re tearing apart [and moving] my first home,” she posted on Facebook. “So many memories. I won’t have to look at it any more, but it will be like it never existed.”
Does home still exist even when the physical structure is gone? Does home exist even when we leave the building?
Home is where one starts from. ~T.S. Eliot, “East Coker”
This house, our current home, holds so many memories and so many stories known and unknown, good and bad, within its walls. (By the way, what’s with the hinges on that one stair?) But one day this structure might burn down or blow down. Then does our home still exist?
Maybe home doesn’t hinge on a house. Maybe home is a journey. I know Christie is right when she writes:
He [God] is especially present in the very places we imagine he cannot be. ~ Christie Purifoy, Roots and Sky
I know I will find Him in the palms as well as the maples.
“Abide in me,” Jesus said in John 15. Or as the Message renders it, “Live in me. Make your home in me.”
In my end is my beginning. And I am already home.