They built the house when I was six years old. It’s a basic ranch style home, long and rectangular, with a wide circular driveway paved smooth for bicycles and roller skates. These rooms witnessed my life. Elaborate Barbie houses and “the hall game.” Writing and performing plays. Practicing dance and piano and guitar. Vinyl records and disco moves. School projects, a slim-line phone, and an orange beanbag chair.
I see my various selves in my old bedroom. I’m small and weak with fever, and Mom is perched at my bedside, cutting out paper doll clothes or coloring in a brand new color book. I’m in junior high, with friends sleeping over, and we’re giggling, whispering secrets, and wondering about make up and clothes and boys. I’m sixteen and crawling into bed after coming home from a date, still smiling because my sweet Daddy waited up for me, even though he insisted he really was watching TV.
I’m sixteen, and my True Love finds me, and I’m on my knees, growing wings.
“If these walls could speak . . .”
I wonder, does a house remember? Do a young girl’s prayers — the first and holiest ones — somehow remain, a faint aroma of grace?
I left for college at eighteen, then marriage at twenty-one, and the first baby came at twenty-three. I had my own home now, but this house, it was always the place I returned to. My life, my children’s lives, and now my grandchildren’s lives — a thousand snapshots of smiles framed by these same walls, and isn’t the frame what holds a thing together?
“You can never go home again.” So the saying goes, and perhaps it’s true. Certainly we can’t go back in time, become the little girl again. We can’t catch the same fireflies or whisper the same secrets. But the house, it’s still there, and my parents still in it. This house that expands and contracts and opens its arms to each new generation, lively once again with music and laughter and baby’s cry. With Luke and Sarah and sweet little Naomi, who sleeps in that same room where I first tasted Living Water — where I awoke and knelt long, my head bowed low, and the words, they came in songs to Him. Now she awakes and stretches her tiny arms and legs, and does she hear it? Do the echoes linger still?
“You can never go home again.” Perhaps not. But sometimes life’s twists and turns take you very close, and you find yourself sitting in the living room of a house on the same street. A house that you passed every day on your way to school. You rode by on your bicycle as a little girl and you drove by in your Volkswagen Bug as a teen, and again and again through the years, you and your children and your grandchildren, never once thinking you might one day live there.
But it’s come to this, and you tell the owners you’ll let them know. You bow low, open hands holding all things loosely, clinging only to Him. You ask, and there’s no mistaking the Voice that speaks. Peace pours in, and every argument is swept away in the flood.
So. In a few months, after almost twenty years in a community that has loved us and embraced us and carried us through the hardest days of our lives, we will be saying goodbye. Because, as difficult as it is to pull up these well nurtured roots, we can’t resist the loving purposes of our Always Good God. Might it now be my turn to sit beside Mom in her weakness and wait up with Dad? What a beautiful honor.
In a few months we’ll be moving to Dallas. We’ll be neighbors with my parents, our son, our daughter-in-law, and our granddaughter.
And we’ll be neighbors with my life history.
It’s true, in some ways, you can’t ever go home again. But these wings? They bend to the Spirit’s wind, and the only way to soar is to lean hard into the music and let go. And what if you land close to where you began?
Perhaps the first and holiest prayers meet you there.
I believe it. I already hear the echoes of grace.
* * *
Giving thanks in community for:
#165 Promises kept. (And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.)
#166 Prayer with George and the gift of unity
#167 Peace that passes understanding
#168 The joyful prospect of sharing life with beloveds
#169 God’s promise that not one word will fail of all that He has spoken
#170 Tears and grace from treasured friends
#171 A brother’s generosity
#172 A father’s joy and gratitude
#173 A mother’s life (Happy Birthday, Mom.)