My wife said to me, “John, we need to be here, together. This is our common ground.”
Recently my wife and I were struck anew by a significant aspect of being-at-home, in the physical place. Our lives are given a center that grounds us and draws us together.
Of late we have done some travelling, and this following upon an unusually busy summer. By and large the things that called us away from our home, and also demanded that time in our home be focused on things remote from it, were important and worthy of attention. There were weddings and other events of significance, camps, conferences, vacation, business opportunities, etc. Good things all.
The issue here is not simply that these things are tiring or enervate us. More to the point is that we can lose an essential center in our lives. To reverse a point commonly made: home is more than just people; it is a physical place. It is a place we need to inhabit, so that the reality that is ‘home’ might inhabit us.
Such is a significant aspect of being rational animals, embodied spirits. Place matters, every day.
If there is one thing that should make this evident to us, it is children. They probably will not enunciate it, and indeed, they might not consciously perceive it. But they crave stability—a stability that is incarnate, in place.
The space certainly need not be posh or decked out with accoutrements of entertainment. Such surroundings actually can distract and dissipate. Place is about presence. And presence is essentially a function of persons investing their attention, in disciplined, intentional fashion day in and day out. In body, here, rather than there.
And as usual, what is most obvious in children also speaks to what we ourselves need, in varying degrees, at all ages.
It is not that life is circumscribed by the walls of home; our life must be broader than that. The point is that our interior life, our marriage, our parenting, our friendships, and our place in the broader community, are profoundly enriched when the physical place of our home is a stable foundation and center from which life radiates. Here is a common ground we must work together in cultivating.
Thank you, Sofia, for turning my eyes once again to an astounding gift right here before us.
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Husband, father, and professor of Philosophy. LifeCraft springs from one conviction: there is an ancient wisdom about how to live the good life in our homes, with our families; and it is worth our time to hearken to it. Let’s rediscover it together. Learn more.
Loved what you wrote about home. It is so true.
They are like a tree planted beside the waters
that stretches out its roots to the stream:
It does not fear heat when it comes,
its leaves stay green;
In the year of drought it shows no distress,
but still produces fruit.
Beautiful. And appropriate. Thank you.
If you have not done so before, may I suggest attempting cultivation of a grapevine.
The things that we love, tell us what we are.
Aquinas, and so many others of old, knew. There is nothing I love so much as being “at home”.