Wednesday, July 15, 2009

There is Beauty All Around

Out of life's dreariness,

into life's cheeriness,

come we in weariness...home.

Today I want to talk about home. Making a home. Feeling at home. Setting down roots. Pulling them up to move somewhere else. Beginning the process all over again.

Married life has carried me through this cycle only a couple of times. For the first go-round, my path was eased by the fact that a sister had purchased the home I was leaving, eliminating the need for final farewells. My truly painful move was the one into this house...the one pictured above...the one any person who loves beauty would presumably love to inhabit.

And I do love beauty. But I did not want to inhabit the home I live in today. Instead, my heart was loyal to the beauty I knew best, the dwelling I had lovingly created and nurtured in a different (and infinitely more dear) house than any I could imagine. I firmly believed (as I do now) that the walls of a beloved home somehow absorb every particle of the living that takes place there––all of the laughter, tears, love, and light that imbue an organized collection of wood, frame, and stucco with a spirit that literally can be felt. With that in mind, I personified my dwelling place. In fact, when we moved from our dear old lady (yes, I believe the home in Southern California was of the feminine persuasion), I even wrote a sonnet for and about her.

©1994 by Susan Noyes Anderson, The Lyric

Old house, you held a family in your womb.
You stood upon the soil with warmth and grace,
a sanctuary and a birthing place,
nurturing life and love in every room.
You watched the hearty agapantha bloom
with every child, secure in your embrace,
providing boundaries bathed in high-beamed space;
your orange-blossomed peace a sweet heirloom.
No last goodbyes will echo through our sleep;
you'll be no long-forgotten, empty shell.
We mined our roots, but found the veins too deep;
in leaving you, we left ourselves as well.
Each broken, earth-bound fiber yours to keep.
Each golden, lonely secret yours to tell.

Needless to say, I felt profoundly sad about the move, convinced that I would never find myself "at home" in quite the same way I'd always been in the lovely abode where my young children had been raised.

My point (yes, I do have one!) is simple. I was absolutely right when I wrote this poem...I never have been at home in quite the same way I was in those golden days of my children's early childhood. However, I was absolutely wrong as well, because while the way is different, I am very much at home today in my Northern California digs. It took a few years, true, but the poem I'd write if I left this place would be just as poignant––just as nostalgic, sentimental, and regretful as The Legacy was––and I would feel it just as deeply.

I did leave some roots in Southern California, no doubt about it. These days, though, I see that as a good thing. Having a root or two firmly planted there invites the sweet nostalgia I feel each time I smell fragrant orange blossoms or see bright blue agapanthas (which I made sure would be fairly often by planting them liberally in my Northern California yard). Like those bountiful agapanthas, I've grown new roots; and they are deep, anchoring offshoots whose complex structures are fed by consistently renewed pools of love and memory. In other words, the cycle continues.

Recently, several dear friends have moved or are in the process of moving, some more happily than others. (This economy takes no prisoners.) I guess I just wanted to offer the reassurance, reinforced by my own experience, that the settling in always does come full circle. The rooting will happen; and eventually, even the newest of walls will be infused with enough laughter, tears, love, and light to make of themselves a living, breathing home.



Momza said...

Tender lovely sentiments that could only be written by one who knows.
Thank you so much.

karen said...

I concur. Very well said. I said many of the same things to my daughter when she and her husband and daughter moved to Puerto Rico to go to medical school. It's been difficult, but fortunately, the Church is everywhere, and she's made some friendships that will last a lifetime. She and Mia left today after a wonderful visit, and I am feeling (predictably) a little sad.

Heather Anderson said...

Love that poem. Most of your poems a more up beat as you usually are... but I think the emotion tied to your loss made for a very touching poem. And I do believe moving as with most adventures in life brings wonderful new possibilities!

Natalie said...

My goodness, how I've missed you!!
Beautiful and wise always. Thank you for sharing them.

LOVE your new poetry site!! Congrats. :)

Fiauna said...

That home is truly lovely. And, I agree, it's good to have roots deeply embedded all over the place.

Carolyn said...

Lovely words and pictures.

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