My mother lives in her mother’s home, a Victorian farmhouse surrounded by a cobbled brick wall where I once tottered impersonating a tight-rope artist. The rose garden, on the front porch, served as Wonderland as I disappeared beneath its foliage during hide-and-seek. I sang the rhymes of my youth perched upon one of the two gnarled apple trees in the middle of the rolling lawn. “When Johnny comes marching home again hurrah, hurrah.”
Skip and I returned to 802 W. Court Street during the holidays to celebrate my first Christmas at home in over 20 years. Before leaving, he asked me to recall some of the favorite places or things so that he could photograph them. I described our stockings hung upon the grand marble fireplace in the library while my sister and I twirled in matching pajamas by its flames. Suspended along the stairway, in the main entrance, hung a wondrous chandelier where my father uttered, “Pretty” while lightly brushing the dangling crystals.
But the room that conjured the best memories was the kitchen with its huge copper hood and table nestled in the bay window. There my grandmother, and now my mother, served meals that rival any Dickensian feast. I’ll take my mother’s spritz cookies over Timmy’s figgy pudding any day. And then, I realized that things don’t make great memories, people do. What makes a house a home? It’s not the furnishings, but the family within its four walls. I’d be nuts to travel 1,200 miles from New Mexico to Michigan to scale a brick wall or gaze upon a chandelier… unless my family waited inside.
The truth of our earthly dwellings dovetails perfectly to our heavenly home. What’s so great about heaven? The streets of gold, the pearly gates, or the mansions in glory? Paradise can become a prison if you’re the only one there. Really the question isn’t what, but Who. The greatest thing about heaven isn’t a thing at all. It’s those who reside there, especially God! Dorothy would never have traveled through enchanted orchards, haunted forests, and poisoned poppies to reach Oz if the Wizard who granted wishes didn’t live there. Likewise, as Christians we may traverse narrow paths, daunting mountain peaks, or death valley. But we know that the pilgrimage leads to our heavenly Father. And there’s no place like His home!