Temporal Homes

A farewell to apartment living

Poolside this evening, soaking up our second to last date night at the mill. In almost two years of living here I have never thought to have a date by the pool. It is perfect.

We are moving next week. This will be my 31st move in almost 38 years of life. Yes, you read that right. I do not recommend it. When I was little my mom called me The Marauder because I rarely slept in my own room. She’d find me on the couch or the guest room bed many mornings. I didn’t know my life would turn out so similarly.

Home is an obsession of mine. I feel deep empathy for displaced peoples because I have been unable to secure a home of my own. The home we bought almost five years ago remains unrenovated, a dream that will not die. Someday it will come true, in Jesus’ name. But strangely, to cut our monthly costs, we have found a fully renovated mill house in our neighborhood that we close on next week. What on earth. We’re about to own two homes in the same neighborhood. It makes no sense to me that this is our next step, but I am so grateful it is. Living in a black mill house with wood floors and a front porch and a big back yard with lots of trees and a fence.

References to walled or enclosed gardens abound in ancient and recent history. The word paradise (from Persian pairidaeza, meaning walled park or enclosed garden) was used to describe Eden in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (Septuagint). Randy Alcorn elaborates in his book, Heaven:

“The word paradise does not refer to wild nature but to nature under mankind’s dominion. The garden or park was not left to grow entirely on its own. People brought their creativity to bear on managing, cultivating, and presenting the garden or park. ‘The idea of a walled garden,’ writes Oxford professor Alister McGrath, ‘enclosing a carefully cultivated area of exquisite plants and animals, was the most powerful symbol of paradise available to the human imagination, mingling the images of the beauty of nature with the orderliness of human construction…. The whole of human history is thus enfolded in the subtle interplay of sorrow over a lost paradise, and the hope of its final restoration’ ” (Alcorn 55, 56).

I have lost and gained many homes, apartments, duplexes, rooms, and their accompanying land. None of them were mine. The black mill house will be ours, but only temporally. My longing for paradise, for never-ending Home, will continue, I’m almost certain. But maybe for a while we can find some rest, not beholden to landlords or wall-neighbors. We can cultivate our garden. We can imagine what Heaven will be like.