JOYS OF HOME
Curling smoke from a chimney low,
And only a few more steps to go,
Faces pressed at a window pane
Watching for someone to come again.
And I am the someone they want to see—
These are the joys life gives to me.
So let me come home at night and rest
With those who know I have done my best;
Let the wife rejoice and my children smile,
And I’ll know by their love that I’m worth while.
For this is conquest and world success—
A home where abideth happiness.
—Edgar A. Guest
It is a place of rest. It is four walls and a roof. It is a destination. It is where family and friends gather. It is the goal of every baserunner and a port in the storms of this life. For some it is known as Heaven. It is the subject of four years with of collecting stories and anecdotes and an outline, hoping for me to finally write it into a cohesive book. From it I arrived at the name for this blog. It is, as Henry Van Dyke wrote, where “the heart can rest.” For me it is a combination of all of those things, and much more. I’m speaking of course of Home.
Home has been likened to a castle. Indeed we have in our society something known as the “castle doctrine.” And while it is true that our home is our castle I think this is where it becomes easy to lose focus on the things that matter. An empty home becomes simply a house…a structure we fill with things, but void of laughter and love…of life. There are men who hold too closely to the image of being “kings of their castle” and take the lazy way out by being served instead of doing the serving themselves. This can be done a myriad of ways, but most if not all of them involve taking the focus off of ourselves and placing it upon others. We can do this by being selfless as defined by Merriam-Webster.com as “having no concern for self.”
So yes, it is a castle. But a castle must also have a food supply; a garden if you will. If love is the fuel that converts a house into a home then we must be master gardeners as well. By planting the seeds of love, nurturing it, helping it to grow and to flourish, the house will become a home.
For the past five Wednesdays I’ve been getting up ninety minutes earlier than normal to join sixty men from our parish and participate in a men’s bible study/leadership program called That Man Is You. It had been promoted for several weeks in our parish and several men, including a young man who was once in our teen group and now an impressive young professional in Kansas City, recommended that I participate. To be honest I didn’t want to, and I came up with every excuse I could think of to get out of it. My wife never once said a word about it and there was no pressure from her. I was the one feeling the pressure from my own self because I knew I would have to do two things that every prideful man fights against: submission and accountability. Finally coming to terms with that fact that both are positive traits in leadership (traits I needed to strengthen) I decided at the last minute to register.
We’re in our fifth week and have been covering the four leadership roles of men: Moral (personal responsibility), Military (integrity of action and clarity of thought), Economic and Political (both providing a foundation for the future). A fifth element that supersedes and unites all of these is a man who is willing to pay the price. For if you are not willing to do this…if all you are looking to do is be waited upon by others and let weeds grow in your garden…your home will be simply a house and decay. The consequences of the failures of men are obvious today: conflict in society, disharmony in the family, suffering children, and a loss of faith and morals.
Now before you stop reading: relax…I’m not going to launch a sermon. I’m not perfect and have fallen down in my life too many times to count, but I keep getting up and dusting myself off to try again. I’m simply presenting some background on the analogy of a home as a castle and a garden. And it’s something I take very seriously as well as into my heart because you simply cannot look out into our society today and deny that something is wrong. We’ve lost our way. We sneer at and tear down with derision those things that have worked or could help us as being “old fashioned”. Modern man suffers as he always has throughout history with an “arrogance of modernity” that says what we know today at this single point in history is the zenith of all knowledge. We know it all. We’re sooooooooo enlightened. The past is the dark ages. St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine and learned men and women, philosophers and scientists throughout the ages who built the foundations upon which we’ve benefited were such lightweights compared to us.
What a load of crap we shovel and bury ourselves and our future generations under because of our pride.
And lest any women reading this are thinking to themselves that I’m being overly patristic, two of the greatest examples I could give are of Mary, and of Mother Teresa. Everything that Mary did and continues to do is geared towards directing us towards her son. Her last recorded words in Scripture were “Do whatever he tells you.” And after reviewing this morning the example of King Solomon, a man blessed by God who had it all until he lost it all to his pursuit of worldly pleasures, we contrasted his example with that of Blessed Teresa, a simple and humble woman who spent the majority of her life tending to the needs of the poorest of the poor. When asked about her call to serve in Calcutta, Mother Theresa said Jesus said to her
You have become my Spouse for my Love—you have come to India for Me. The thirst you had for souls brought you so far. Are you afraid to take one more step for your Spouse—for me—for souls? Is your generosity grown cold—am I a second to you?
For you men reading this: imagine this is your wife or your children saying that to you.
We want to be “kings of our castle” but we’ve long ago abdicated that throne. We failed to serve and instead insisted that we be served. The weeds are many and our families are checking out on us.
“Do whatever he tells you.” (submission)
“I thirst.” (accountability)
Ok, so maybe it was a mini-sermon. But the point is still valid. How will we respond?
If the walls of your home could speak what would they say?