The subject of home has been much on my mind lately as we have gone through the tortuous and exhausting process of moving from one house to another in towns hundreds of miles apart. We are down-sizing (a bit) and although we have disposed of quite a lot of things one way and another, we still have a lot of ‘stuff’.
However I realised as I stood in our newly empty house, about to hand over the keys and title to it to someone else, that a lot of what felt like ‘home’ to me was bound up with this ‘stuff’. Much of this has to do with memory, of books and furniture and ornaments passed down from parents and grandparents and from friends, and of pictures and things chosen and made my own. In the new house these things have yet to find their places and some will no doubt in time find a new home with other people. It will take a while for me to feel ‘at home’ in these new surroundings.
But of course home is not just a house with things in it. It is about the people who live there and visit it as well. I have always found section 26 of Advices and Queries on the subject of a Quaker home rather intimidating. ‘Try to make your home a place of loving friendship and enjoyment, where all who live or visit may find the peace and refreshment of God’s presence.’ My home has sometimes been a place of noise and conflict, although always grounded in love and therefore not without that divine presence that never despairs.
In our new house we will be nearer to two of our three children and to our grandchildren. This was an important part of our reason for moving and I hope we can make our home a welcoming place for all of them as well as for friends both old and new. Above all I hope that everyone who comes here will find a piece of home for themselves – if not always peace and quiet!