A wee while back I mentioned I’d been reading a book called “Motherhood and God”.  I’ve been mulling over a chapter in it called ‘Homemaking’, and want to mull over it a little more publicly here.

Homemaking – yeuch, I hate that word.  It sounds so nineteen fifties and Stepford wifey.  It sounds so, well, unfeminist.  And yet, homemaking minus those connotations is something that we all do, male or female.  It seems to be a human instinct to create our own ‘nests’ which make us feel safe, provide us with refuge – physical and more – from the world at large.

The chapter in the book which discusses this looks at the role of the home from a kind of spiritual perspective and it’s really made me reflect on my own valuing of home and why that is.

Making a home is one of the deepest, intrinsic drives of motherhood.  Making your house warm and comfortable and friendly is the necessary physical expression of the emotional security that every mother needs to give her child.  The first home of every human being is its mother’s womb.  There is found warmth, security and softness.  When we plan a house for our family it is a sort of projected womb, so it is natural to want to provide warm, soft beds and safe electric points and space in which both children and parents feel free to develop

And yet how many mothers in the world are able to realise this apparently natural instinct, amidst the poverty and privation in today’s world?

However, I do like to share our home with others although I don’t think we do this nearly enough.  Because conversely I also like the retreat our home provides, the chance to get away from the world for a while.  Maybe I need to recognise that that quality in itself is also one to share.

…it is right and natural that you should go on to share [your home] with others.  It is very satisfying to share some of your family warmth and security with guests, whether they just drop in for coffee, share a meal, or stay a week.  I know I have drawn strength and comfort from being in other people’s houses…Sharing a home is a way of mediating the strength and comfort that we should spread as Christians…We try always to have a spare bed available, and that symbolises something about wanting to offer a continual welcome even when we do not get round to issuing invitations.

This resonates with me so much.  We made a decision when we bought the home that we’re in that we’d really try to use it as what it is, God’s house.  This kind of conscious open-handedness is perhaps easier to talk about or resolve to practice than it is to actually get on and do. 

However, there is a bigger idea behind all this, which the writer goes on to look at when she writes about how we use the idea of home as a way of understanding or expressing life after death.  And for me I think this is why there is a sacredness to ‘home’. 

Heaven will be like getting home after walking miles through the cold and wet and dark during a bus strike, and relaxing in a deep, warm bath with lots of bath foam and strains of Mozart coming through the open door.  Heaven will be like waking every morning in your own bed to find your husband warm and safe beside you, and your children healthy and lively, bouncing in to greet you, and knowing that it will always be so.  Heaven will be like coming out of hospital, where you did not like the food and did not like the hours, did not know the people and did not like the room, and knowing that now in your own house you can eat what you like when you like, be with the people you like and be surrounded by objects you like, and feeling so relieved about it that you hardly mind any more if you feel ill or not.  When we say heaven is our home we mean it will be a place of uninhibited restfulness where nothing has to be done at any precise time, where nothing grates on our consciousness, and where we do not have to think about doing, but can simply be.

My home is a sacred space to me, not always perfectly realised, but a taste of heaven.  I need to consider how to extend that concept of sacredness so that it can be felt by others.  Because we all need a place to call home, or places we can go and have the experience of a home away from home.  To share that with someone is a true gift, and a true blessing to receive. 

Thank you to the many people who have shared their own sacred space with me and my family.  We hope to return the blessing.