A Sense of Home by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

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The holiday season will have many of us focusing on home. Whether we are traveling back to it, decorating it, or welcoming people into it, home takes center stage. In part of his forthcoming book, A Time to Plant: Life Lessons in Work, Prayer, and Dirt (to be released in January 2011 by Ave Maria Press), Kyle T. Kramer reflects on what it means to call a place “home.”

He speaks of embracing a “‘vocation of location’ in which we make and maintain a particular place of belonging in the world.” That vocation can include a whole list of domestic duties. These are the things that we are so familiar with – cleaning, doing the laundry, cooking, doing dishes, paying the bills, etc. Those are all important and necessary tasks, but home should mean more than that.

Kramer writes, “‘home economy’ means finding and creating a peaceable home in the overlapping circles of family, friends, neighbors, church, and the wider community.” With so many people so busy with obligations outside of the home, the concept of “home has been replaced by the cheaper idea of ‘house’ . . . an afterthought of a place where we grab a bite to eat, watch television, escape from our jobs, make love and war with our family members, pay the bills, surf the Internet, and collapse for a few hours of sleep.”

Kramer challenges us to think of home as much more than that, to perhaps reclaim a sense of home that earlier generations possessed. “Home can and should be a center of meaning and purpose in our lives. Home should invite us and strengthen us to the good work of belonging fully to a place and to its people.”

Sometimes moving to a new geographical area is necessary. It can be part of a God-given calling. However, there is something to be said for making a commitment to a certain area, for putting down roots and staying there through thick and thin. Even in an era when we can keep in contact with friends and relatives around the world with a touch of a button, face-to-face relationships are still vitally important.

There is no replacement for the friendships and family relationships that develop by spending quality time with others over a number of years. Watching children grow up, sharing meals, knowing and trusting your neighbors, worshipping together – these are the things of which true homes are made.

In this holiday season when so much emphasis is placed on home, it is a good time to think about what it means to create a sense of home. How can the environment we create within our own four walls then carry out to the world at large? How can we better commit to the people who share our house, our extended families, our neighborhoods, and our churches?

Copyright 2010 Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

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