Home – Why We Need it More than Ever
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door…”
–inscription on the Statue of Liberty
I stopped in the middle of sorting books and de-cluttering to watch an unfolding story on CNN and with the rest of the world, saw the stark image of Aylan Kurdi, the three year old boy from the refugee family whose body washed up on a Turkish beach. He lost his life, as well as his mother and his brother as they fled war-torn Syria.
I turned off the television as the thought of desperate families fleeing their homes became too difficult to bear. How can I help? Something must be done…But what?
I am de-cluttering with the intent to list our home, and downsizing requires intention. It is hard to leave my home. This house. This place that has seen so much laughter and play of children along with some tears and loss, too. It is Home, after all, which is where we live life. This house has seen friend and family gatherings, Christmases, Thanksgivings, wedding showers, baby showers, sleepovers and Grandkid Camp for our grandkids. Yet realities dictate that we let it go.
But today, a little boy’s image on a far away beach in Turkey is giving me a fresh understanding of Home.
How we all long for and need homes in the world, because the truth is that we are all refugees needing safe places along the way. The Psalmist wrote about his heart being “set on pilgrimage.”We are all on a journey, and our dwelling places change for various reasons. For instance, right now my husband and I are realizing our home must serve us, rather than us serving our home. So it’s time to leave. And yet we long for that place as we wonder, Where shall we go? Where is the place for us now?
Abraham and Sarah searched for a home. Jesus lamented that even though the sparrow had a nest, he didn’t have a home, and then reminded us of the dwelling places he was preparing for all of us. Homes are metaphors for who we are, and they are powerful places for us and for our families. We need them now, more than ever.
My grandmother was a widowed mother of four in the Great Depression and had to move often, sometimes even renting a single bedroom in a house just for shelter, as she worked to provide food for the family. My mother told me that even though their dwelling places were humble, my grandmother made it Home, by sheer determination. It was always clean and orderly. It held their own few familiar things, their own familiar food. It was Home.
Although where we live is fluid, Home is fixed. It’s at the very core of who we are. And we make homes as we surround and fill our places with ourselves. Many in the world, like Aylan’s family, are risking their lives to find that place to call and create Home. It takes searching and sacrifice, along with work and maintenance. Home is our most basic desire, and we all long for that actual, physical place of refuge; a place of restoration and a place out of which to grow and learn and give.
And we remember that ultimately, when our “earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building not made by hands, eternal in the heavens.”
Today, as I pray for Aylan and his family, I will try to hold loosely to temporal things as I see that to become a true Home is to become a person who mirrors our God of compassion and refuge. To give; to speak out for those who cannot, and to welcome the stranger in our midst. To become a Home for God in the world.
 Psalm 84:5
 2 Cor. 5:1