When I moved into my first house in Durham, NC, over 20 years ago, I found a walking stick in the corner, à la 'Miracle on 34th Street' (because Santa left it. Go watch it...). I took it with me, and since then I have put it in the corner of every place I have lived. So far, that makes 11 places as a post-college adult, plus about 10 before that, which means I have moved roughly every 2.5 years I have been alive. I know from moving.
I always swear I will find one home and stay there forever, but I know it's not true. I love the adventure of new places and new spaces. I really hate to travel, and have no desire to see the world. Instead I take my world - my loved ones, all my stuff - with me. I need a home base, a place where I feel secure.
It did not escape my notice that this last move took place the first week of Lent. In fact, we closed on the house we were selling on Ash Wednesday, a week ago, and then didn't complete the purchase of our new place until the next day. So I fasted in a hotel room, completely between addresses, HGTV on in the background. It was thoroughly bizarre.
The season of Lent is about repenting and returning. It is a time for prayer and fasting, self-examination and self-denial. It is about cleaning out all that stuff in our souls that keeps us from fully loving God and our neighbor, from fully accepting our call as those who bear God's love into the world. Spending this time literally hauling and sorting stuff, literally switching base camps, is reminding me of how I sometimes idolize my security, this almost mythical idea of home. How my belongings don't really protect me from the needs of others, the need to care for others.
"Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head". We follow a Lord who didn't have a home, at least not an earthly one, that we know of. We belong to a religion that keeps sending us out there - on journeys, to meet others, to share in the Kingdom of God. I am so glad I do have a new home, with my love, and the kids, and the dogs. But I wonder, especially these days, how much it shields me from the world. How much it should.