In the past 7 days, I returned from my small ocean-community-bubble, moved my boxes in, unpacked boxes, saw friends, avoided friends, answered e-mails, unpacked boxes, avoided e-mails, started work, started classes and dropped classes. If we took the sum of the activities of the week and divided it by its parts, together the average would equal confusion – plus or minus the feeling of displacement.
Over the last week I’ve been moving into my new apartment with my new housemates and we’ve been working on making our flat, a home. Today we finally found a few of the last pieces necessary to make our place feel complete – bowls and kitchen table chairs. We’ve been repeating, “wow, we have a home now!” Pictures are hung up on nails, couches are snuggly placed into their cozy spots and cupboards have been labeled and organized. Ta da! We have a home!
So what exactly makes it a home? Is that it? Having keys to a building in your hand? Handpicked and thoughtfully placed furniture? The people you live with? The feelings of comfort you have?
This week, after a long day, I laid in bed and I stared at the ceiling. I thought about the things I had done and still had to do while I waited for my brain to feel tired and my thoughts to settle. It’s in this place that I think most of us do our best thinking, the place between the (for lack of a better word) ‘non-stopness’, and where we wait for sleep to take us by the hand into the morning.
So as I waited, in my new room, to drift into dreamland, I realized that the ceiling in my new room looks really familiar. I wondered why that thought came to mind, so I began to consider how many ceilings I’ve stared at in the exact same position over the last 6 weeks… 4 months… 12 months… 21 years…
So many thoughts, decisions made, prayers, hopes, tears.
So many different places, so many different beds, so many different ceilings/tarps/skies.
I have spent so much of my life memorizing the grooves and furrows of the ceiling above me. As my thoughts go through the paces, my eyes follow the streets and valleys unintentionally drawn into the roof above me. I began to wonder… If I stare at this blank ceiling for so many hours in the 4 months of living here, are there things that I could to do to make the most out of it? Put my study notes there? Put a self-help sticky note to encourage me?
That’s when I stopped myself.
This time and space, the place where I lie and think and pray and consider my day is a safe haven. It’s my church. The place where I lay my head, no matter where it is, is the only place I can guarantee a pause in my day, before the rush of a crazy dream captures my brain cells – so why fill it with ‘non-stopness.’ The thoughts, prayers and tears need to happen for me to stay sane.
It also made me reflect on a moment I may have mentioned in an earlier post.
When I was in Haifa, Israel, I had to take a bus all over the city by myself. There was Hebrew and Arabic being spoken all around me – even the bus spoke Hebrew – and I realized I had never been so far away from what I call home. I felt so foreign and so small. The the coolest thing was – nobody noticed. (I’ve been told I have the physical appearance of a Jew, which helped me look like an Israeli, as long as I didn’t open my mouth. However, this tactic didn’t work in the West Bank/Palestine.)
In that moment I realized that I could do anything. That this place, a country in the Middle East, could be my home too. That I could survive in a place where I didn’t speak the language, and didn’t even know where I was going. I was without friends and without family when I had that thought, but I was with God.
I had to acknowledge the blessing that this moment was for me and that it was much bigger than myself.
I also think that that moment was when I was bitten by the travel bug, sorry Mom and Dad.
Home can be anywhere – under any ceiling in the world. It’s a place that you create – it’s not created for you. Over the last couple years of living away from my parents’ home, I’ve learned that home for me includes three things:
People I trust, and a space that is mine. But, before those things, I need to trust that I have a God that will take care of those two things for me.
I learned this summer, that if I don’t focus on the latter, I can’t feel peace.
Maybe peace is what makes a home?
For now, I am thankful for the space of a brand new ceiling to think, pray and hope under.
I am excited to help my housemates discover what they need to feel at home.
And I am excited to see what ceilings God will place me under next.