The sky held its peace through spring this year. Crab apple blossoms fragranced the neighborhood then succumbed to gentle rain, petals fallen but still white. Summer, however, refuses to let the leftover thunder go to waste. From my desk by the window, I watch the sky fling torrents on the park-like expanse of my neighbors’ backyards. For over eleven years, beginning before reality television made small houses a trend, I contentedly made a home for myself, my husband, and our two dogs in a 425-square-foot house.
We knew its walls inside and out, with a sense of both yesterday and today. We’d remodeled it completely. We’d heard its past from the little old lady who came up the driveway one day to tell us what it’d been like to be a girl there over seventy years ago—before the addition her parents made to double the square footage. (Yes, a family of three lived in a 200 square-foot-space until they could afford to build on.) The walls that family had cherished were a place of safety for us, our first major undertaking as a couple.
But surrounded by drifts of snow early this year, the limitations of the house suddenly struck me. For the first time, I resented only hosting events in summer, when family could gather outside, weather permitting. My husband and I had never had the space to accommodate loved ones the way I longed to–inside, around an actual dining table.
So, four months ago, we leapt through the emotions of listing our safety net. In the busyness, a gentle spring came and went. Today, I’m writing this post as yet another thunderstorm gathers low over our new home. Because the floors here needed to be refinished, a week and a half after moving in, we had to leave. We stayed with my parents until the polyurethane fumes receded. When we returned, my husband cut a gas line while preparing to have our foundation fixed, an accident that brought three firetrucks and three squad cars screaming to our new address. We also discovered the roof needs to be replaced.
The storm that was rolling in as I sat down to write now pelts the shingles. I check to be sure the bucket is under the leak, and on my way back to my computer, I hear the sharp click of hail. In the midst of this rough process of work and discovery to make this house ours, I hurt my back. Laying on an ice pack, I began to read Roots and Sky. I made it to the second page of text before grabbing a pen to underline passages that echo my own desires for a dream house in the country someday, yes, but also passages that put words to my hopes for this house, whose secrets we’re still learning.This place is home, but, as Christie writes, “Homecoming is a single word, and we use it to describe a single event. But true homecoming requires more time.”
Homecoming is a time of growth. This house, more than triple the size of our last, is too big for us. It fits like the shoes a mother might pick for a growing kindergartner. Our possessions don’t fill these rooms, nor does our faith or our relationship. On every level, we must grow. Grow to trust God and each other more.
This homecoming is a process, but we’ve started and, thank God, we do not travel this road alone. We have family and friends nearby, and we are assured that He who began a good work is faithful to complete it.
I survey the empty space around me, and I know we will fill it. Not today or next month, maybe not even next year, but on our twelfth wedding anniversary, my husband assembled our first dining table and chairs. And today, as I finish writing this post, the thunderstorm has already passed over. I am safe and dry and warm. And bit by bit, I’m coming home.