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Home is more than an address

From The Christian Science Journal - October 23, 2013

When a friend recently came by to see my new house, she exclaimed with delight, “It feels just like your old one!” This comment could have seemed odd, as the two homes look very different. My new home is modern and I’m the first owner. It’s in a village and has a small garden, which I’m just starting to fill. My previous home was a thatched farmhouse over 400 years old and three times the size, in a large garden surrounded by fields and open sky. Still, I know what my friend meant. There is indeed a continuity of atmosphere between my new address and the previous one, and although the location, bricks, and mortar are different, this new place expresses for me the real sense of home—a place that reflects peace, harmony, and beauty.

Over the years, I’ve had many adventures in finding a place to call home, so when I decided to downsize a few years ago, I knew I would be guided in this step as I had been many times before. All the same, it seemed a big challenge.

I first had to get my motives quite clear. In an article published in the Christian Science Sentinel, I found this advice: “Go where you can give and grow” (David Stevens, “Just keep climbing,” Christian Science Sentinel, July 18, 2005). I took that to heart. I realized I had to be open-minded and drop preconceived ideas about how my new home should look. I refuted the idea that I was dependent on realtors to find my right place. While I could certainly appreciate their help, I knew that God would take care of me.

I decided to take a first step and then wait on God for direction.

I also felt inspired by a Sentinel article I read about the tabernacle in the wilderness described in the Old Testament (Christine Irby Williams, “A revelation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art,” Christian Science Sentinel, June 16, 2008). The article helped clarify that every “station” of the “tabernacle” is spiritually significant. At the entrance, you have to determine which qualities to bring inside. Self-will and a false sense of responsibility need to be cast off. The altar of sacrifice symbolizes giving to God what is precious to you, and the altar of incense represents the power of gratitude. With these ideas in mind, I tried to get a purer sense of everything I held dear: my church, my garden, the furnishings and gifts that made up my home—and, of course, my cat. I really started to see them all in terms of spiritual qualities. I knew I wanted to take beauty, grace, love, and obedience with me—any negative qualities were burdens to be shed.

I really prayed with these ideas to elevate the moving process above the act of sorting through possessions and the practical need to downsize. I kept in thought the idea that home is the consciousness of God’s love—the understanding that we’re all enveloped in and protected by the Divine. This love is always expressed in ways that we can understand.

Instead of being overwhelmed by the number of decisions ahead of me, I decided to take a first step and then wait on God for direction. This first step turned out to be getting my old house in order. There were repairs to be done, and a lot of sorting and sifting through possessions inherited from friends and family. One day I looked at the large hi-fi equipment my husband had used, which filled a corner of the sitting room, and decided to make a change. Now I enjoy compact, modern equipment that occupies a fraction of the space.

I also found that acquaintances could make use of some of the things I no longer needed. A young man who had helped with some major tidying, redesign, and planting in my garden was happy to use some of my furniture and rugs. The process of cleaning out my home coincided with major refurbishing in my Christian Science branch church, and the other members and I were all ready to sell or discard what was no longer needed. The decisions about what to keep and what to give away all seemed very natural and easy.

There was absolutely no stress or strain about the whole experience.

After at least a year of sorting, I was ready to put the house on the market. I still had no idea exactly where to relocate, except I knew I wanted to be close to my branch church. I looked in the local newspapers and went with a friend to see a house with easy access to the town center. Although I fell in love with the house, someone else bought it and I still hadn’t sold my own. At first I felt very disappointed. But just as I’d carefully sifted through my material possessions in preparing to move, I continued to refine and sort through my thought—getting rid of a false sense of responsibility and fear about finding the right place. I spoke to a Christian Science practitioner, who encouraged me to trust God’s timing. This insight helped me turn my situation over to God and to realize that the details of my move would unfold according to God’s perfect plan.

Finally, I received an offer on my house. I then looked into different properties and discovered that a new development had opened in the village I’d previously visited and loved. I saw the development the next day, and as soon as I stood outside one of the newly finished houses, I knew that was the right place. God’s perfect timing meant I didn’t need to look any further.

Again, making decisions about new decor and other things unfolded step by step, a process cheerfully supported by the good friends who lived in my new neighborhood. I was able to find ways of blending traditional and modern design together with a great sense of zest—and all the stores I needed for this project were on my normal path around town. Friends and family rallied to help take away more items no longer needed. I even went on a holiday that finished two days before I moved in. There was absolutely no stress or strain about the whole experience.

My cat, who was used to roaming wide spaces, has also adjusted admirably to his smaller territory and likes to accompany me when I show friends around the new house. Care for him when I am away is readily available. And now I make new friends every day at the bus-stop.

Truly, God is good and beautifully supplies what each individual needs. To me, this moving experience is best summed up by Mary Baker Eddy’s words: “Pilgrim on earth, thy home is heaven; stranger, thou art the guest of God” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 254).

Anne Maconochie lives in Girton, Cambridge, England.

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