The words ‘home at last’ are uniquely powerful. The desire to be at home is so deeply rooted in us that we don’t question it. If we see these words on a tombstone we scarcely notice; or we smile and think, of course. In the end where else would one want to be?
It is striking that this remains the case—at least I think it does—even as home-life has changed and indeed by most measures been undermined and sore diminished. Recent trends in home-renovation and home-décor evidence a growing attraction to the notion of home and homeyness. More significantly, growing numbers of young couples seek something much richer than the common fare in their homes. There seems a deepening awareness that we suffer from lack of a central feature of human life.
What is home anyway? Surely it is some kind of place. It is some-where that we can be, and of course be together. The old saying tells us that home is where the heart is. A wise saying for sure, but as all wise sayings it must be unpacked. If I set my heart on the glamour and glitz of Hollywood, does that really make it my home?
One thing is sure: a real home requires that hearts be there. But now we face a crucial issue: why would one put one’s heart here? If we say ‘simply because it’s home!’ then we might have a vicious circle. It’s home because we love it, but we love it because it’s home.
I think we can say both are true in a sense, when we realize that home is where we share a life with those we love. These people are worth building a life around. We love home because we love this person or persons so much that we want to live with them every day. And this is home precisely because we love them that much.
Granted, part of the human drama is that even home—in the obvious and most natural sense—is never big enough to encompass the breadth of human life. A father becomes painfully aware of this when he walks his daughter down the aisle. Any home we make, even if a true home, is a limited and passing reality.
Yet limited though it be it has an almost limitless power. Why? It cultivates and draws out that primordial desire in our hearts, even while it cannot be its ultimate fulfillment. In a real home, we learn that life actually can be that good. We discover and indeed taste something that solidifies who we are and gives compass to life itself.
And this begins most definitively when a man and a woman commit to one another, and so choose their shared life. Centered in their home. Home will not be their only focus. But to the extent that both give it the priority it demands, to that extent it will be a home. For them, for any children, and perhaps for many others.
Here is an inestimable gift, one that according to our station in life we can always begin again to receive, and to offer to others. ~ ~ ~
In this brief VIDEO, I say thank you to WIVES and MOTHERS for all they do in making our homes:
Image: Carl Larson (Swedish, 1858-1919), When the Children Have Gone to Bed
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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.