The Very Unassuming Task
It’s cold outside today. There’s just a little bit of snow falling, and each naked tree limb outside my window has a delicate covering of white. I love this weather. And I love it especially from within the cozy confines of my home.
This is what home does—keeps me warm on cold days. But, I want my home to be so much more than that. Yes, a refuge from the outside world, but more still. I want my home to be nothing less than a warm embrace. For me. For my family. For every friend or stranger I invite within its walls.
I want this home of ours to be the very embodiment of my love.
That’s a lot to ask of concrete and wood. And, it’s a heavy burden to place on tchotchkes. But, it isn’t in the building materials that the love shows up. It’s not in the furniture and bedding. And certainly not in the “styled shelves” or cute vignettes.
Understanding that has changed the way I make my home. Yes, I still hang pictures on my walls, and try to keep the floors mopped. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not narcissistic to decorate or straighten up. But, I do it to make my home a welcoming place, not a demoralizing one.
I won’t create my home to impress anyone. Because, at the heart of it, what is impressing but just another word for intimidating? And that is the last thing I want you to feel when you walk in my home.
So, yes, I clean my home and try to fill it with beauty and comfort. But, I pick up the messes not to make you feel bad about your house, but so that you don’t have to step on legos. And, if you come over and there are legos all over the floor, you’re still so welcome (you’ll just have to be careful where you step). I put all those books on the shelves not so you’ll think I’m smart, but so you can browse through to see which one you should borrow next.
I create these spaces as an opportunity to connect, and if we can’t do that here, then my home is a failure, regardless of how elegantly designed it is.
When you arrive, I want you to feel like you are more, not less.
I want you to feel how deeply you belong. Yes, even if you just arrived.
I want you to be able to walk inside and breathe deeply. I want to create a space where you and I can talk freely, where you feel safe and heard.
I am trying to make those spaces—in my home and in my heart. Because when you look around my home, I hope you won’t be assessing the style or furniture layout. I hope you will look around my home to see if there is a place for you here. And, I will do everything I can to make sure there is a hole that is shaped just like you.
I will make sure that the chair is not just pretty but comfy as well. There will be a blanket handy to throw over your cold toes, and a spot to put your glass of water. There will be a pile of wood that’s chipping all over the floor so we can build a fire. And, I will make the time to sit. Just sit with you. Because that is the greatest act of hospitality that I know.
I will not always do it well. It is a work in progress. I am a work in progress. I get mixed up and turned around and find myself on the wrong path all the time. But, this is what I intend for my home.
I am trying to create a whisper in my house that will grow to echo from every wall. It says:
Show up just as you are. Your belonging doesn’t hinge on the way you look or act or speak. Come with messy hair and messy attitudes. Come tired. Come curious and excited. Come hungry or frustrated. Just, please, do come in, friends.
It’s cold out there.