Created to Make Homes
Created to Make Homes
On the downhill slope of a dirt road, west of a small one-room cabin, there flows a creek whose memory winds through the minds of those who have grown to love that place. Strung between a tree with the names of many a relative carved in its bark and an ancient pine, a bridge hangs above the water and the rocks below.
My great-grandfather had a farm there once, and left the ground for his family to love as he once had. He loved that place and made it his home, and his love echoed through the lives of his children. His daughter married a man of meager means. That man became my grandfather, and the place shaped the young couple as much as their work shaped the place.
My grandfather headed to the woods after his shift at the factory and on the weekends, hauling whatever scrap lumber and used nails he could scrounge so that he could work on the cabin that stands there now. When my grandmother became ill, the place became his sanctuary and the work his restoration. For the 10 years she lay in a coma, the place was in many ways a home for my grandfather and my mother.
As he is now older and unable to do much, the upkeep of that place has fallen to me. I rebuilt that bridge last summer. My grandfather's bridge had begun to sag and creak with each crossing. The water is not deep there, and there's no real need for a bridge. Nevertheless, the place that had given me much beckoned, calling me to make an offering of thanks for the beauty and the love it has inexplicably sewn to my memory. There by that bridge, I first kissed a girl with our feet dangling in the water. There I went camping with friends when we should have been at school, dunked my cousins in the swimming hole, caught wary trout in the cool of a spring morning, and sat around a fire talking about life, love, and faith with friends. A sense of obligation and responsibility for the well-being of that place drew me there to rebuild the bridge and it draws me there still. No longer creaking and sagging, the bridge stands as a path to the woods beyond, a memorial of those who have loved it in the past, and an invitation to those who love it still.
I haven't invested in a place as I should. But I am blessed by an attachment to a place that I always can call home. Few of us have planted roots and truly invested in a place. Nevertheless, we have been shaped inevitably by some place and will remain attached to it.
All too frequently, Christians strive to achieve much and answer the call to do some great thing, but we forget to be somewhere. We forget that a place that is loved, whether a small hometown or a city on the far side of the globe, is just as legitimate a concern as a cause that we love. We frequently see attachments, subjectivity, even sentimentality as weakening and confusing; however those very things and the places they involve are often our greatest sources of strength and clarity.
Called to Make Homes
Humankind's original task was to make a home. I'm convinced that deep down in the midst of the human design, we are fundamentally home makers. Since the beginning, people have glorified God by living and being at home. Genesis 1 says God blessed the first people and commanded them to "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it." This speaks of our responsibility as those who live on this earth created for God's glory. Jeremiah 29:4-7 says, "This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 'Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.'"