I am building a home.
I’ve built homes before, but none of them have felt quite right. Sometimes the foundation is cracked, or the walls are flimsy, or there’s no electricity, or there are too many drafts coming from the attic. They just haven’t come together to really feel like a home.
But I’ve studied the blueprints. I’ve learned from the experts. And I’ve figured out my weaknesses in my old models, so I now feel ready to try it one more time, with confidence that this time, I’ll get it right.
First, I start with a solid, firm, and unmoving foundation, one that I am confident will stand through even the roughest of weather and disasters. It will keep the home grounded and set a sturdy base. Even though it isn’t seen or paid much attention to, it makes all the difference in how the rest of the home stands.
Next, the walls go up – the boundaries of the home. The partitions that not only delineate where the home begins and ends, but also which room is which, creating the precious space the homeowners need make the home their own, to construct a home that fits their needs. There are walls that enclose the bathroom, where cleaning and self-care take place. There are other walls that denote the kitchen, where food preparation, body nourishment, and sharing meals happen. And there are other rooms, defined by yet more walls, that are for sleeping and rejuvenation, for leisure and relaxation, for learning and working, for crafting and creating, for storage and memories. Those who stand inside the walls are free to live their lives as they need to, while protected and safe within the strong confines of their home.
But a home is not really a home if there is not a means to go in and out as desired, which means doors come next. Doors in between rooms in the home, of course, to allow for the freedom to move through the home as needed, but more importantly, a door from inside the home to outside. A doorway that lets the love of friends and family in, that lets wonderful gifts and kind mail and messages in, or that allows the homeowners to leave to seek new adventures and fresh air and sunshine.
However, doors also have a function that’s equally important to their ability to open: the capability of closing and, more specifically, locking. Just because a door can open to let people and things in and out, doesn’t mean it stays open for everyone. Doors may be the portal that allows for safe passage through a boundary, but they can also lock for protection, to keep danger out. They don’t do this on their own – we know how doors work – but it is up to the homeowners to use their awareness and discretion to know when to open the door and when to lock it.
With walls and doors in place, we must also put on the roof. The roof that sits on the very top of the home, high above the ground, getting a different perspective on the world above and below. The roof shields the home from the inevitable elements that are a part of living on this earth. Roofs are the very things that field the brunt of the weather, whether it’s the pounding of the rain or the blankets of snow or the rays of sunshine beating down or the wind that strives to rip apart the shingles. The roof feels and sees all of it – yet a well-built roof (with routine maintenance, of course) will faithfully protect the home and all of those in it from the storms and rough weather of the earth.
What’s a home without windows? Those beautiful glass portals that allow us to see from the inside out, to remain connected with the world beyond our home? Through windows, we can see what lies beyond, good, bad, or otherwise. Some days, windows let in the sunshine and warmth of a scenic summer day, or they show us the joy of a child learning to ride a bike, or perhaps even the excitement of a dog chasing a squirrel. Other days, though, they show us the rain and darkness, or the pain of a child falling and skinning their knee, or the frantic anxiety and sadness of someone who has lost their beloved family dog. Regardless of what goes on – and whether we like it or not – the windows let us see.
Finally, once the structure of the home is in place, the electricity gets wired. That electrical energy that runs through the home, which provides light and warmth and radiance. Sometimes it goes out (as is the nature of electricity), but by and large, it’s always there, and helps create a home that feels bright, cozy, and joyful. (And it helps convey that feeling on the outside of the house, too, especially if the homeowners enjoy outdoor decorations during the holiday season.)
Other elements are also included – plumbing, appliances, heating and cooling, etc. But I’m most concerned about the overall structure – is this a home that is going to remain strong, sturdy, and stable? Is it functional for the needs of the homeowners? Will it withstand the test of time?
My other homes have not satisfactorily answered one or more of these questions as of yet – but I’m learning to ask the right questions, so that the more homes I build, the better I become at answering ‘yes’.
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Photo credit: Dakota Roos from Unsplash