Home Isn’t a Place

In 4LTR WORD: HOME by Mandy Smith

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It’s my day of rest—so instead of gulping down my tea and diving headlong into the day, I’m sipping it slowly, taking time by the window as my neighbors dive into their days.

Cindy has driven from her house two doors down to pick up her adult son. He has cerebral palsy and can live alone but needs her nearby. I wonder where she’s driving him today. I wonder how they’ll manage when she moves out of town next month.

They zip past Rachel and her children emerging reluctantly from their house, on their way to the bus stop. It saddens me whenever I notice this morning ritual because it’s a good 90 minutes after I’ve taken my high school kids to school and I remember the slower pace of the days when my kids rode the bus with these two. I remember when I walked them all to the bus stop every morning because their youngest was then a baby. Her oldest are now about the age mine were then, and they still have a little pink in their hair from the dressing up session my daughter hosted when she babysat this weekend.

They’re still dawdling off to the bus stop when my eye turns to Sharon, in her usual turquoise house coat, tending the flowers on her porch. Next she’ll put out scraps of bread and stale cereal for the squirrels on her front walkway. The same bread and cereal (and squirrels) that will tempt my dog in a little while, when I walk him by her house.

Sharon and I bumped into each other in the supermarket last week. We laughed because we live beside each other but hadn’t seen each other all season and yet, here we were—running into one another at the store. She told me she had just been looking at a house on a different street because she feels isolated on our little street. I told her I understood and reflected on the emails I get every week, updating me on the newest real estate listings in a quieter, safer part of town.

I’ve been in the market to move ever since I moved here temporarily … 16 years ago. Wow. I’ve been here that long? But it doesn’t feel like home used to feel. When I just was, without always thinking of where I was. The older I get and the more places I’ve lived, the more I define home as a lack of self-awareness about where I am. Home is no longer a place—it’s a getting on with life.

I was reminded of this recently when my son walked in the front door after a particularly difficult day at school and shared this with me:


Photo (Flickr CC) by Gordon Robertson

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Mandy Smith
Originally from Australia, Mandy studied Biblical Studies at Cincinnati Christian University and is Lead Pastor of University Christian Church, a campus and neighborhood church and fair-trade cafe in Cincinnati. She is the author of The Vulnerable Pastor: How Human Limitations Empower Our Ministry (upcoming, 2015), regular contributor to Christianity Today’s PARSE site and creator of "The Collect," a city-wide trash-to-art project. She is married to Dr. Jamie Smith, New Testament Professor at Cincinnati Christian University, and they live with their two children in a little house by campus where the teapot is always warm.
Mandy Smith

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