Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Bless This House

I'm in a countdown to let go of the place I've called home for fifteen years. In less than six weeks, I'll lock the door behind me and walk away from the empty shell of nearly a quarter of my life.
I know there are people who can leave a home without much more apparent anxiety than they change clothes. I'm not one of them. For me, as for many, moving is one of the biggest and most stressful of passages, on a par with ending a relationship or a career.

Commodity culture doesn't encourage us to make much of such transitions. We're urged to believe that we can pack up and negotiate the shift successfully, provided  only we spend enough to replace cheerfully whatever we may have left behind. Real estate agents glibly talk about "product" available on the market. Stagers give advice on how to strip your personality out of your home when you're preparing to put it up for sale.

But it's not more stuff that we need. It's a community that bears witness with us to the life we've lived in a place that's stood at the heart of the world we've made for ourselves. Taking leave of a home, we need to celebrate among friends what we've become there, what we've created, what we've cherished. We need to go from room to room, giving thanks for how each has sheltered and enabled us. We need to leave space for grief and the acknowledgement of loss. We need to invest our household gods in objects that can stand for all this, and then pass those objects on to those who will come after us; or bury them; or carry them with us to the place where we'll build the next stage of our lives.

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