A couple of months ago, three men wearing masks backed a truck up to our house and took away all of our furniture, completely emptying the house.
Before you ask, yes, we paid them to do this. So they emptied our bank account as well as our house. They didn’t get much. There was more in the house than in the bank account. (I’m a writer.)
It was time to downsize from the 1600-square-foot house we had lived in for three decades to a 2200-square-foot townhouse. (As we have grown older, we have begun to see the value of having a place with four bathrooms.)
A complicating factor was that there was a gap of a few days between moving out of our house and moving into our new townhouse. It felt as if we were living back in the stone age. We had no permanent dwelling place, only a temporary shelter. Every morning we would go out to forage for food. Fortunately, Tim Hortons has been around since what seems like the beginning of time. We had no way to predict the weather or to find out what was happening in the rest of the world beyond our narrow circle. We had no books, magazines, or newspapers, no phone, internet, computer, or television. In the evening, my wife and I had to mindlessly stare at each other for four hours. We didn’t even have an address where we could receive mail, not even air mail (known to most of you as “flyers”).
But we were together and worked together to support each other. We had good friends and family members to help us. And God was with us, and He really has been around since the beginning of time—and even before that.
The interlude ended, we moved into our townhouse, and all of our possessions reappeared. Well, most of them anyway. It took only two hours after our phone was connected for the telemarketers to find us again. I had over 500 accumulated emails to plow through, most of them spam. And the nightly news on television was bad. It almost made us long for a return to the stone age.
For a while, it was like Christmas. We kept opening boxes not knowing what is inside. We found a lot of interesting stuff, just not necessarily the stuff we needed. On a Tuesday, we went to the store and bought coffee. On Wednesday, we found the coffee pot. On Thursday, we found the coffee maker and cups. On Friday, we found a spoon and could finally have coffee.
Now we are back in hunter-gatherer mode. Every day, we go on a quest to try to find the stuff we unpacked and put away but can’t remember where.
The great problem with moving is that it necessarily puts the emphasis on things, not just on the house, but on all of the things that go into it, what to move and what not to move, what to add and what to throw away, instead of putting the focus on God and people, who, unlike things, are eternal.
It still feels as if we are living in someone else’s house or a very good hotel, nice but not necessarily home, certainly not our home.
My wife thinks it is because we have no memories of events, interactions, and happenings that we have experienced in this place.
I think it might have something to do with the fact that, due to COVID-19 restrictions, we can’t have any visitors. A house warming party is out of the question. We have a much larger dining room, but we can’t invite anyone to dinner. We have a beautifully furnished guest room, but no one will sleep there for the foreseeable future. It feels as if we need someone else to come in and validate that this really is our home.
It all feels so temporary, so unrooted. Perhaps it is a reminder that this world is not our home and we are just passing through, as these verses point out: “These men of faith…agreed that this earth was not their real home but that they were just strangers visiting down here. And quite obviously when they talked like that, they were looking forward to their real home in heaven” (Hebrews 11:13-14 New Living Translation).