I first saw our current home on an online realtor ad while visiting family down South. With just a few clicks through the agency’s featured photographs, I knew this house would be ours. A dialogue between this house and me began that day and–happy to say–it continues even now.
At the time of finding that realty listing, the house where we were living wasn’t ready to be placed on the market. For six solid, frantic weeks, my parents and I turned a lived-in bungalow into a polished gem. Our tiny old house sold in two weeks–right in the midst of the housing bubble burst– and our contingency bid was accepted for the new house. We moved in with the help of a handful of people we really didn’t know.
We tend to call those kinds of occurrences “Fate”.
I have felt deeply entwined with my home ever since our first virtual meeting. It has sheltered and nourished me during some of the most challenging times of my life. My children have navigated their adolescence here. My husband was lost here. In our early years of living in this house, he would struggle with active alcoholism.
But in time, he was also found here.
We all were.
After a handful of years living in this place, I developed a curiousity for Numerology. I came to learn that our house was a “7”, an energy “…so deeply spiritual, or at least it is in its most positive expression, it requires us to take a retreat from the outside world to contemplate, meditate, and devote ourselves to God.” In the years since we’ve lived here, my home has directly inspired my devotion to God. Today, it still accompanies me on my journey of continued personal and spiritual unfoldment. This house is the very essence, the raw material, that I use toward a mystic partnership with the Divine. And A New EverAfter reflects that relationship.
This relationship is who I am at my core–as I am to me and as I am me to my God. Yet, this is a relationship available to anyone. It is simply the journey home.
And it is a journey that is begun by simply…stepping in.
Opening the door
By profession, I am a Spiritual Director. To be exact, I make my living by companioning others on their own spiritual journeys. It has been said that “Spiritual direction has the primary intention of opening a door to invite God in“.
To enter our homes, and to open our hearts, the first thing we must do is walk in. Initially, that is all it takes: to Enter in. Just as a home’s halls and corridors will lead you to the functional living spaces contained within, so too will the experiences and insights of your life help you navigate the journey of your heart.
A door is a raw material. Stepping through it is the magical act of coming to know yourself and coming to deeply know God.
Our homes reflect our innermost beings–our preferences, our habits, our motivations, our compulsions, our comforts. Self-awareness and Spiritual Growth are not independent of each other. To know God, you must also know you. Our homes can help us get to both places. We just have to walk through the door and take a good look around.
Our homes are made from our free will. We choose the color palette, the furnishings, and decide when to do the laundry (or not). The house itself is the raw material by which you then construct a home. A home with a heart only becomes so when the raw material given to you is interacted with, shaped, developed, kept up, and utilized to its utmost efficiency. There is a choice in the use of your living space’s raw materials–and there is a deep sense of listening to the needs you have for your home that transform it from just a building to your personal sanctuary.
This process is not unlike the spiritual journey. The wood, the rock, the hands that we build our homes with are of God. Yet how we come to use them is how we also come to be with God.
“What you are is God’s gift to you, what you become is your gift to God.”
― Hans Urs von Balthasar
My home is humble, and it is also grand. It’s 1,800 square feet of early 1900’s carpentry on a small plot of a few acres. It’s modest, but more than many ever get to shelter under. I have had a long-term vision to turn it into our dream home, but most of our resources go into its perpetual corroded pipes and basic upkeep. God may shelter us, but s/he doesn’t promise us a rose garden.
Our homestead is lovingly referred to as “EverAfter” but that doesn’t mean this is our happy ending. In fact, it’s often not happy and it’s definitely not yet our ending.
EverAfter is our journey.
That journey is home. We traverse the multitude of life experiences right where we are standing. In this space, we seek God again and again. There are days when we turn our face from God because we feel too battered and bruised to listen. God waits patiently in the doorways. Then there are days when we find our joy and God dances with us in the kitchen.
This is a new type of EverAfter, one that exalts the process and not the destination.
Faith is ultimately what we come to trust. With all engagement comes risk–and the only way to live a life is to engage with it. We ensure our properties have had a proper inspection, but there is no way to ensure that your roof won’t leak five years down the pike. We need something to trust just to get us through the ups and downs of life. Faith gives us the courage to keep showing up for our lives.
Our homes hold up under gusts of winds and their foundations keep them steadfast. Sure, our homes need to be maintained to keep us, but our souls need to be maintained to keep us too. No one taught us how to truly and authentically maintain our own souls. Thankfully, our homes show us how to be faithful.
There is no guarantee that we shall ever have a perfect fairy tale life. To focus only on the “happily ever after” of your story means you are keeping yourself out of the beauty and glory of your life today. God wants all of us. Our mess, our clutter, our doubt, and our hope. A new everafter turns the fables on their head and focuses on bringing truth, joy, and faith to your story today.
This EverAfter is not about the ending but about redefining your present. This is a new EverAfter where one listens to God each day as you build a strong foundation from the raw materials of your life.
There is a deep sense of trust and radical acceptance that eventually comes with traversing the Spiritual Journey. Yet it takes courage to first walk into a space where you’ve never been before. We are not promised lives of pure bliss, but we are promised an abiding presence. You just must be willing to enter into the awareness of that presence. Right now, that is all you need to do. Just enter in. Just be willing. The rest you’ll find down the hall…but that is for another time.
Reflection: What will it take for you to be willing to risk opening the door to your spiritual journey?
In subsequent posts, I will be digging deeper into how a spiritual journey unfolds. I will share with you specifically how my home helped me grow closer to the great Mystery. There are tools and techniques that I use to understand the Divine, just as there are tips and techniques I use to get a spot out and to alleviate cold symptoms. I will share those with you, too. My hope is that my journey may inform yours and that together, we may be the hands and feet of Divine Love.