Thoughts of Home

           Hurricanes. We’ve had our share this year.

           The destruction, the economic loss, the muck and mess, and the hard, hard work of rebuilding – I can only imagine it. And it’s just a matter of time before another hurricane strikes, or a “perfect storm” occurs, or a forest fire sweeps down from the hills, or a flood upriver brings disaster to someone’s door.

            Whenever a big hurricane devastates a part of our country, like Harvey and Irma have this summer, I have to wonder why people want to return and rebuild in the same place. Wouldn’t they rather just run and not look back?

            But I think I do understand.

            It’s that four-letter word: home.

            The weather may be crappy and you might want to get away for a while, but you’re still glad to get back. When it’s too hot or too cold or too wet or too dry, the landscape still holds a certain beauty for you. The air smells right and the trees look right and the earth feels right under your feet.

            Home is where your heart goes when you close your eyes.

            Everyone defines home a little differently. Maybe it’s wherever your partner or your children are. For some it’s the place where they grew up, or where their parents live. Sometimes “home” can even be a place you never actually lived.

            For me, a special place that always felt like home was the home of one of my grandmothers. I suppose my own parents did a pretty good job of raising four kids. But they were in the middle of draining the swamp, so to speak. Things were always a bit calmer, more laid back, at Grandmas’ house. Things went at a slower pace.

            This particular grandma lived in a white, two-story house with a screened porch on one side, and a long yard in back. So many things grew in that small yard! Fruit trees, grape vines, and a vegetable garden with the usual beans and tomatoes, but also interesting things like rhubarb, and kohlrabi, and asparagus.

            There was a birdbath and a statue of the Blessed Mother, in front of which grew Jacks-in-the-pulpit and lilies of the valley. Mourning doves cooed in the shade of the nearby trees.

            The garage in the summer was dim and cool, swept clean, but still worth exploring for artifacts -- the treadle and cabinet from an old sewing machine, a hand sickle, and old garden tools that seemed ancient to me. My grandma was a waste-not-want-not type of woman, and wouldn’t have discarded anything that still had some use in it.

            A favorite spot inside the house was the kitchen table. It was small, tucked against the window overlooking the back yard and the big old apple tree. Often I enjoyed fresh banana bread, or apple cake, or even just a slice of home-made bread with sweet butter. Whatever Grandma had, she offered.

            I could go on about the house, but I think it’s really the people who made that particular house feel like home. There’s a prayer for parents in our prayer book which asks God to give them “calm strength and patient wisdom.” I think of Grandma every time I hear that prayer.

            I hope calm strength and patient wisdom are in good supply for everyone working in the aftermath of hurricanes, floods, fires and other disasters that have driven so many from their homes this year. Do what you can to help. Tell your family you love them. And if your home is still in one piece, be thankful. Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like it.