Friday, July 22, 2011

Little House on the Hill

the Little House on the Hill
Father Andrew Stephen Damick once suggested, in a post that I can no longer find, naming one's abode.  At the time, I lived in a large, cookie cutter house that I felt ambivalent about at best.  A string of unfortunate events, none of which were actually problems with the house or the neighborhood and could have happened anywhere (an extremely disappointing initial loan process that cost us a friend, an expensive leaky dishwasher that turned in months of remodeling, a failed attempt at stained concrete floor by an inept and unethical contractor, our first home owners' association, broken bones, our first asthma attack, to name a few) strongly affected my affection for the place.

The thought of naming that house was depressing.  There were at least 100 other houses that were just like it.  We had significantly changed the kitchen (after the dishwasher episode), added a bedroom, but all in all there were still 100 other houses with the very same floor plan, some with the same brick, most with the exact same elevation.   Don't get me wrong, there were many things I loved about that house, my kitchen was a dream come true, our master suite was a pure luxury of light and space, and lest I forget, my heirloom roses, grapes, and figs that I planted over the years, but I wasn't attached to it.  I think the emotional baggage of some of these events colored the way I felt about the place.  I did not want to claim it as my own.  My enlightened response to Fr. Andrew's post at the time was: what twaddle!  Either that or something even less erudite.

Now, freed from the tyranny of sentiment, I can see the wisdom of the suggestion.  This is especially true in a place where the houses are often 75 years or older.  Naming your home can be a way of claiming that which you did not design for yourself as your own.   We can christen our homes, blessing them and transforming the very earth of the place from a wild and ungodly place into a Spirit filled firmament.  As Orthodox Christians, we build icon corners and bless our homes, but we can go further.  Through consistent prayer and blessing we consecrate our home to God and set it apart from the world.  It becomes a Spirit-filled refuge. 

In this new home of ours, I want to pay particular attention to blessing this home formally and informally.  I will do this by making the sign of the cross and saying a small prayer as I rise in the morning, begin a chore, serve a meal, plant a garden, harvest its bounty, administer medicine, fold the laundry, lay down to rest.  My goal, during this season of unpacking and paring down, is to bless the places and spaces of my life so that it becomes me, so that I am habituated to praise God and ask for his assistance and blessing in all things.  Blessing the earth and gardens, the home, and its inhabitants with love of God and neighbor, so that through the Lord, Who Abides All Things, not only is this place transformed, but we are transfigured by His grace.

Towards that end, naming this home of ours is apropos.  Seeing as we have downsized significantly, losing about 1000 ft², this house is a cozy fit for us.  For now, it will be The Little House on the Hill.  For me, the naming of this place puts miles between me and the world even if it's right out my front door.  Its not that our Orthodox traditions fail to suffice or are in anyway incomplete, but that by naming, it becomes distinct, it becomes my own.

We are still unpacking, making room, learning about basements and attic bedrooms and life without air conditioning.  I am still looking for the silverware.  In other news, my ankle feels so much better.  I can almost forget that it was broken.  What a tremendous blessing that has been.  I can whole heartily recommend Dr. John Early of Dallas, TX as a competent and able surgeon, as far as ankles are concerned.    Thank you for all your prayers, everyone one of you.


1 comment:

Christine said...

Your house looks charming...and I love the name you have chosen !