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Home this side of heaven

First slide

I went down to the basement this morning to put away some frozen food and to store some canning jars on a shelf. I flipped on the appropriate lights and navigated my way around still-unpacked moving boxes. After unloading my items and making my way upstairs, I turned off all the lights without thinking. This simple act was a milestone. The lights and switches aren’t really intuitive, and you have to truly know the place to know which ones do which thing. To do something in this house without consciously thinking through the steps felt like a victory. Maybe one day, if I can acquire enough of these little victories, I will feel at home.

 

Or will I?

 

Who are we when we are at home? We are most ourselves, most relaxed, most like the people we were created to be. Will I ever feel fully grown into myself?

 

It is frequently noted these days that Catholics are “politically homeless.” Indeed, a Catholic who follows his faith in every dimension of human life will quickly discover that no major political party meets all his requirements. I would argue that in 2020, that sense of homelessness seems to broaden and deepen so that it is more than political homelessness. It is cultural homelessness. It is nearly impossible for faithful Catholics to sink into that sense of coming home in any facet of our culture. Even the church is deeply divided. Nothing fits. Everything leaves us just a little (or maybe a lot) restless.

 

St. Augustine tells us that we will always be restless until we rest in Christ. We are never completely at home unless we are at home in Jesus. And honestly, we will never be completely at home while we reside here on earth. Politically homeless, yes. But homemakers nonetheless. In 2008, my sense of political homelessness and searching took up residence right beside an incredibly strong nesting urge. Both went unresolved as I stayed very still, treasuring every pregnant moment before birthing a baby prematurely. She was baptized in the neonatal intensive care unit on election day. I remember well that season of frantic searching, fueled largely by hormones designed to promote homemaking in restless women seeking a better world for their children.

 

This time, there is no baby, but there is still nesting, still a restless seeking to know all the light switches by heart so that I can flick them on and off without thinking so hard about where the light comes from. There is a softening that has come from watching the world shift in remarkable ways in the last 12 years, from watching my family grow and shift as well. Softness yields itself to gentleness and to surrender. There is very little of importance I can actually control. I recognize that life doesn’t sort itself neatly into one human camp or the other. The Gospel wasn’t written in red or blue. It was written in Precious Blood.

 

We won’t truly be at home this side of heaven. And our time now is to be spent growing closer and closer to Jesus so that when death comes, heaven feels all the more familiar. But we can rest in Christ now; to do so means we choose to live life alongside him. We surrender entirely to his plan and we shoulder the cross with him. We see the suffering and the sorrowful through eyes that see as he does. We lament with him. We are angry when he is angry. We weep when the Lord does, forgiving in the same breath because they know not what they do. We make a home in him and with grace, we welcome home all the other people who restlessly seek the peace and light that only comes from one source.

 

Foss, whose website is takeupandread.org, writes from Connecticut.

 

 

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020

@elizabethfoss