When does a house become a home?
Is it the first time you unlock the front door?
The first time you sign the rent check?
The first time you order takeout and eat it on your patio, in plain sight of all your empty boxes?
We found our new place by way of a housing list, a disconnected phone line, a quick prayer, and just enough courage to knock on the front door. A woman answered our knock and launched into an explanation without missing a beat. “I’m on the phone with the guy from AT&T!” she whispered while motioning for us to cross her threshold.
We walked past a backyard filled with rose bushes and a bright blue pool. Aus and I caught each other’s gaze as she led us to a small guest house with green trim tucked behind the garage.
Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Boston anymore.
It was as if she and her husband were waiting for us, and us for them. This little place had everything we needed, plus a T.V. Our first T.V.! On the weekend after we moved in, they invited us over for dinner and offered a toast to our good health and success in California.
My heart swelled with gratitude as I raised my glass, and I wondered whose life we had dropped into. Certainly not ours, with unanswered questions and loose ends trailing behind us.
This life felt like someone else's dream.
I often lapse into believing that the goodness of the Lord is something I can earn. A blessed life is a controlled one, where every effort is exerted and every possibility prepared for well in advance.
And, as with all manipulations of grace, behind this perversion lay a hidden fear: Left to its own devices, life will break you apart and lead you astray, so get involved, sister. Get control lest the whole thing go awry.
But what happens when the controllable shatters?
A few weeks after settling in, a crystal drinking glass slipped over the edge of our kitchen counter. We were both home, but neither of us were nearby the glass when it fell. My breath still caught in my throat. We're certainly no strangers to breaking glass. Five years with no dishwasher lends itself to these sorts of accidents, and these accidents can often be a gateway to passive aggression.
Someone forgot to dry/wash/put away the dishes. Again.
I knew we had about two seconds to decide: would this broken glass be an omen, or an opportunity?
Our gaze met. We laughed with recognition.
This is how it would go for us, the breakers of not one but two Chemex coffee makers. Even when no one's nearby, something fragile would break.
So, who bears the responsibility? The one who left the glass on the counter? The one who failed to lend a hand and place it in the sink?
Or the one needed a drink of water in the first place?
The controller in me doesn't want to hear it, but sometimes responsibility has no one clear owner.
And sometimes no one in the room is to blame.
The truth is, all the moving, the packing, the changing jobs and finding a new place to lay our heads?
It was pretty rough.
I'm still losing hair over it, to be honest.
There was awhile there where all we had was an acceptance letter. An acceptance email, really.
There were no jobs. No address. No five year plan. We hit the road with all our worldly goods and desperate prayers that everything still unglued would somehow find its way back to something cohesive, something that looked like a new life in California.
When we rolled in to town, we went straight to our friends. Friends who opened their arms wide at the end of their driveway and said "You're here! Let's pop the champagne!" Friends who knew we'd come a long way and we still had a ways to go, but we weren't going to go it alone.
What relief when grace meets you at the end of your journey.
To ebb what's breakable, I raise the glass that a loved one hands me and toast to everything I cannot see:
Here's to the visions we nurture and the prayers we pray, that even the broken pieces of life in our new little home would become part of a much bigger and graceful story that, even as I write this, is being made whole.