REFLECTING ON ‘HOME’
If I were not a pastor, I would be an architect. As a youth, I spent hours viewing (and drawing) house plans and blueprints. What I discovered was that I loved design, but not the drafting. I enjoyed thinking about space and how space can be configured in multiple ways. I came up with multiple iterations of my “dream home.” Each one was bigger than the one I lived in—and I grew up in a pretty large house (4 bedrooms, 2 baths, family room, full basement, walk-in storage). And the housing I saw in magazines inspired me to dream even bigger and better (ie more luxurious). When I moved into the Chicago, I became fascinated by how architects could design large homes on tiny lots (25’ X 125’ is the standard city lot), and I sometimes dreamed of tearing down walls in the church parsonage.
I am still enamored with architecture and design. Last year, I attended Chicago’s first Architectural Biennial and came away with a new appreciation for how design impacts social relationships, and I appreciated the growing emphasis on sustainability and affordability. But while good design can make a house flow, it cannot create the experience of home. A larger, more luxurious house does not ensure more positive socialization. In fact, the larger the home, the more likely we experience isolation.
I once went on a tour of new homes in Texas. These beautiful homes featured large bedrooms each with its own adjoining bathroom and “homes within homes” (master bedroom suites with sitting rooms and a wet bar). Initially, this was very appealing. Having raised a family in a home with one bathroom, I knew all about bathroom scheduling conflicts. Yet, in the end, I walked away somewhat saddened by the experience. These family houses literally disconnected families from one another. No one ever had to cooperate over sharing anything! Parents and children could remain in their individual suites and never interact, never bond, never be a family. I suddenly had a new appreciation for our single bathroom.
When we value space more than relationships; when we pursue luxury over community; when we turn our houses into investments, we become poorer, less human, less alive. God’s design for home is about building relationships and connecting people to one another. This Lent, I’m leaving the comfort of my house to better experience the home God is building. I hope to meet you along the way.
Questions for Reflection:
- Have you envisioned your Dream Home? What does it look like and include?
- Do you agree that God’s design for home is abut building relationships and connecting people? If so, how could your house become an even better tool to accomplish God’s plan?
– Submitted by Rev. Bruce Ray, Pastor of Kimball Avenue Church, Chicago