What Does Home Mean to You?

I put a post on Instagram (thehappyscribe) this morning  about home. It seemed popular and so I started thinking about home and what it means to me.

The route to where I live now has been a long and sometimes winding road! ( Had to use that  – The Long and Winding Road is one of my most favourite songs). For someone who’s home and surroundings are one of the most important things in life, moving several times over the last few years has been unsettling and at times traumatic. Several times I have had to pack and unpack my treasured and various possessions, some of which have become more battered and forlorn which each and every move. But with my footsteps still echoing in a bare and empty room, when I started unwrapping a well-loved piece of china or a cosy threadbare throw, the look and feel of these familiar things seemed to bring immediate comfort. As my home has scaled down in size progressively with each and every move, my belongings have had to be pared down accordingly, but some precious things remain, like the beautiful wooden chest decorated with painted birds, and the pretty gothic shaped mirror given to me by my elder son, and the chalkboard with the words ‘I love you mum’, and a picture of a jug of flowers, both drawn and  painted by my  younger son. They go with me everywhere.

Life has twists and turns; we end up in unexpected places. But once we make our mark on a house, wherever it is, it turns into home. Home is where hearts are sure of each other; a place where you know your way in the dark.

‘The house shows the owner’.              George Herbert (1593-1633)

As we approach Autumn, the cosiness and warmth of home seems to be more important than ever; we yearn to brush off the chill of the day, to hasten homeward in the misty, dusky light, turn on the lights and curl up in front of the fire with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate.

“In happy homes he saw the light of household fires gleam warm and bright’.

Henry Wandsworth Longfellow 1807-82

We all need a place that we can call home: a place to rest, recharge our batteries and sometimes retreat from the outside world for a while. Whether we are a large family or just one person, our home reveals in all its artefacts ( those precious keepsakes, and the everyday and  ordinary and extraordinary things that surround us) the story of us, and of who we are. We may think that style and inventiveness, as well as hard work and money, are what is needed to transform a house or an apartment, and it’s true, those things help create the space we yearn for. But what really matters is that we creat a place of security, a place of love and warmth, where children and grandchildren can grow and turn to, especially when the outside world seems to be creating stresses and strains.

The place we call home needs to keep peace within its boundaries, welcome within its walls, shelter for its friends, and a cake in the larder.

So when you feel unsettled, have to move house or change your surroundings for whatever reason, remember  that home is where you and your loved ones are – it is not dependent on fancy fixtures and fittings, palaces and mansions, but on you and the people you love, and in the cosy place where you gather together.

‘And a single small cottage, A nest like a dove’s, The only dwelling on earth that she loves’.                             William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

the-house-we-left-behind

Thoughts on All Hallows Day and Getting a bit Serious…

As we all know yesterday was Halloween, or All Hallows’ Eve as it is less commonly referred to. I know some people feel it is an evil day that should be shunned altogether, but I would respectfully disagree. It is said to be the night when all the spirits of our dear departed come back to life as the walls between our world and the next become thin and porous, allowing their spirits to pass through. Trick or treating was said to have started in the 16th century, when people went door- to- door in costume asking for food in exchange for a poem or a song. Many dressed as souls long gone in the hope that they were protecting themselves from the spirits.

I think of it as a time when we reflect on our mortal state and think about the spiritual world, whether we believe in ghouls and ghosts or not.

And is there any harm in letting our children have a little bit of fun as long as it is respectful and monitored by an adult? It seems to me that it heralds the start of the winter season; with cosy evenings, fireworks and bonfires, and the gradual build-up to Christmas.

But as we put away the pumpkins and scary costumes and finish up the sweets and treats for another year, perhaps there is time for a little reflection. Today the atmosphere seems fitting for just that. As November dawned this morning with an eerie damp mist, it was as if nature was calling time on the rich, golden hues of autumn and preparing us for winter. Nature always move on, as does life. And on All Hallows’ Day it is customary in many faiths to pray for those who have gone before us, to honour their memories and take time to remember for a while.

But it is not necessarily a time for sadness. It is a time for remembering good times, parties, family gatherings, and perhaps the loving touch of a grandparent long gone but who played a part in making us who we are.

I remember a Godmother who was a wonderful person; kind and always cheerful. She was disabled but never let it get her down, and indeed managed to drive a scooter. I will never forget her turning up at my school to pick me up; we roared home, laughing all the way. She left this world far too soon and I miss her still. I just hope she is up above somewhere riding high and keeping everyone entertained.

So today I will light a candle for all those we loved and love still. The friends I miss and still talk about, and a little person I never had the chance to know.

There is a certain wistfulness in the air today, which reminded me of one of my favorite poems.The last four lines are etched on a tombstone in the graveyard at St. Enedoc Church, Trebetherick, Cornwall. Beautiful.

 The Day is Done by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

 The day is done, and the darkness
Falls from the wings of Night,
As a feather is wafted downward
From an eagle in his flight.
I see the lights of the village
Gleam through the rain and the mist,
And a feeling of sadness comes o’er me
That my soul cannot resist:
A feeling of sadness and longing,
That is not akin to pain,
And resembles sorrow only
As the mist resembles the rain.
Come, read to me some poem,
Some simple and heartfelt lay,
That shall soothe this restless feeling,
And banish the thoughts of day.
Not from the grand old masters,
Not from the bards sublime,
Whose distant footsteps echo
Through the corridors of Time.
For, like strains of martial music,
Their mighty thoughts suggest
Life’s endless toil and endeavor;
And to-night I long for rest.
Read from some humbler poet,
Whose songs gushed from his heart,
As showers from the clouds of summer,
Or tears from the eyelids start;
Who, through long days of labor,
And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
Of wonderful melodies.
Such songs have power to quiet
The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction
That follows after prayer.
Then read from the treasured volume
The poem of thy choice,
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
The beauty of thy voice.
And the night shall be filled with music
And the cares, that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away.

Blessings to you.