Tuesday, May 14

Spem in Alium*

I inherited the Allium.  They preceded me in the soil of my home and were a cheerful surprise just after our first month opening boxes, arranging beds, and finding our spoor roads to food and library and park.

Every year I dig up the bulbs and move them into a new shape to see if they can work together better in the spring.  I haven't found the right way to plant them yet; they don't quite feel like mine.

Wet spring snows bury and thwart them and I shake my fist wishing they could just live out their story so I could see what they really want to be after years of blooming and dying back in this place.

I don't know the stories of this house, the fights and families and flights that took place here, but I know that someone took a trowel and dug holes for these bulbs and watered them enough that they'd push their purple orbs toward the sky like flags to mark the path of the heartbeat inhumed in the soil.

The house we live in was chosen in a whirlwind of opening doors and ever increasing "yeses." We picked it like we picked our church -- pragmatically and missionally.

Will it do what it should?

Will it serve more than just us?

Will it enable us to live purposefully?

Will it stay on its foundation?

Can we make it something new?

We saw what it could become.  It was easy to spot the lesser strengths:  the lack of a garage, anything growing, a guest room, a place to play, a welcoming front walk and a sending one out the back.

We've reconciled much.  Now we can grow, protect, invite, house and nurture much more than we ever could when we first turned the key after those hopeful 1,250 miles of homeless transition.

Now some walls are painted but more beauty can still come.  Boys play on the thick back lawn and run laps in the softness just for the feel of it.  Grapevines reach for the arbor with years ahead of them until they reach their fullness.  Hydrangeas try so, so hard just to respire, forget about blooming; they're welcome to keep trying here.

Most recently, guests can now stay in their own comfortable room with a door that is not the-hide-a-bed-in-the-basement.  It was a particularly grown-up moment for me when I could say, "Here, I took this out of what I had and made this space for you."

It's not the most striking home, the most finished.  It's not close to perfect, but it's carrying the weight of purposeful.  And we realize, given its age and neighborhood, that we are near the limit of what we should reasonably invest in it.  But we'll continue to let it serve us and others because it has greater potential that is yet unknown.

The metaphor could go on and on.  But this home, and this people, has potential to be and become.  I'm not the first one to come do work here, but I am -- we are, we have always known-- to take it to the next thing it should be.  We'll keep rearranging and renovating until we at last can grow directly from the heartbeat we inherited in the soil.

*   Spem in Alium
     I have never put my hope in any other but in You,

O God of Israel
who can show both anger
and graciousness,
and who absolves all the sins of suffering man
Lord God,
Creator of Heaven and Earth
be mindful of our lowliness.
 -- Thomas Tallis  c.1570  

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