Today we will end our 3-month adventure leasing a condo in the West Loop of Chicago. It’s been a blast exploring the city where I was born and raised – discovering new neighborhoods, taking tours like a tourist would, walking all over the place. We rented bikes for a lakefront trip, appreciated the magnificent architecture on a fabulous fireworks boat tour, tasted new foods at lots of superb restaurants, walked to a growing and vital young church where we found ways to serve, and introduced our little dog to life in the city. It’s been a gift of God’s grace.
The question we are now asked by those who know and love us is simply, “So when are you going to sell your suburban house and move to the city?” That’s a fair question, as clearly we were experimenting. And the honest answer is…”Not yet…but maybe someday.” We find ourselves oddly torn, knowing that there is so much of the city life we will miss. But the truth is, there’s really no place like home.
Home for all of us is much more than a specific dwelling, though we have enjoyed our house in Barrington for 23 years. It is the only home our daughters know. I have been reflecting on what makes somewhere feel like home. Certainly the foremost ingredient for many of us is the WHO we live with. But there is more to it. Home is a random collection of memories, of welcoming spots and places, of familiar sights and smells and sounds.
Our Barrington home is the place where for 23 years the girls run down wooden stairs from their bedrooms to the magical sight of Santa having showed up on Christmas morning – still filled with wonder after all these years. Home is the kitchen stools where countless conversations have taken place debriefing a school play, working on tricky math homework, talking through the key moments of a soccer or basketball game, hearing about friends at school while I chop vegetables for dinner. Home is the back deck where we look out over neighbors’ green lawns and lovely flower gardens, where we celebrate with extended family for birthdays and graduations. Home is the family room couch where I sit with the dog on my lap, reading or watching television, while Warren reclines in his favorite burgundy chair.
Home is also the neighborhood – it’s recognizing when someone’s house gets painted, when a new baby is announced with balloons in the front yard, when an elderly widow passes away. Home is knowing where you will go for coffee, dry cleaning, shoe repair, frozen yogurt, a movie at the Catlow Theater, a walk to our local bank where the teller, Cindy, knows our names. Home is the grocery store where I shop several times a week because I cannot seem to plan ahead, where Mary rings up my purchases and Gary packs the bags while asking about my girls and when they will be home.
At this point I could get all spiritual and declare that this world is not supposed to be my home, that a heavenly mansion awaits, that none of us should be so tethered to a place that we cannot obey the call of God that once came to a man named Abraham plucking him out of all he knew and ushering him to a far away place. All of that is true, and I truly hope that if and when God guides Warren and me to make a move, that we will be willing and obedient.
But until that moment, I am going to savor living in the place I now call home. I will sip my cup of tea on the deck, look around with fresh eyes and treasure the memories of little girls filling the house with their laughter and energy, and frequently give thanks for the outrageous generosity of the God who gives all good gifts. I will truly miss the city life…but the truth is there’s really no place like home.