Finding a Place Called “Home”

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      It had been a difficult week and strenuous week-end, but this was a new week and a new day, opened to personal choices   that could fill a sunny day.  For now, at least, there was a degree of freedom to give attention to things needing work on the farm, before cold and inclement weather set in.  Releasing a job with impossible demands and few rewards had been a tearful event, just a day before, but the choice to preserve my sanity and move forward in a more positive direction was a decision today I didn’t regret.

     My partner and I had been working  together in unprecedented fashion from mid-morning to late-afternoon when we decided to break for lunch.  Our four dogs had been free to run the farm or go in and out of the house, as the back door assumed its usual ajar-posture.  If they weren’t out lying near where we worked, we knew they could be found on the cool wood floors of the informal farm house or on a sheet covered futon.  What I wasn’t prepared passing the bedroom door on my way to the kitchen to make sandwiches, was the caramel-colored  dog we call “Clyde” snoozing on our bed, cuddled up to a cozy headboard of pillows. 

            Normally I would be quick to chase such a presumptuous guest out of his comfort zone, but the progress made in our day’s project outside, and the fact that I was beginning to feel like a nap myself, more amused than alarmed me.  Smiling at the ease with which a visitor had made himself at home, and my sometimes-agreeable-half’s suggestion to just “let him sleep”, jogged memories of when my four children would bring their friends to our house—no big deal.  It also reminded me we had just placed a stray puppy in a good home, after he’d enjoyed 3 days of “foster care” and survived our “ 4 Pack” rescue-pups,  now veteran hosts to a new generation of “friends”. I suddenly understood a habit acquired from my own grandmother, who’d habitually covered her bed each morning with an old sheet.  During summer-long visits with our grandparents, we –the grandchildren— would predictably be in and out of the house, up and down on the bed,  and in the late afternoons find ourselves napping on what was considered the premier spot for vacation-time relaxation.  Clyde was no different.

            Humorously I thought maybe there was some kind of secret stray-dog network where they’d learned about our soft-sided hospitality.  Our adoptee’s picture HAD been on Facebook  as a pup without a home, and then again with his new owner just a few days later! 

            In about an hour, I heard Clyde yawning and caught him stretching his revived doggie bones, shortly before hopping off the bed and coming for his usual back-door biscuit at the front door where he willingly exited on his merry way.  We think our little friend has a home, since he isn’t your ordinary scruffy dog with fleas or mange.  He’s skinny, but what he craves most is attention and just a little of your time.  (Other times, he’s visited when I was out working in the garden, and like our own dogs, he would somehow find the center of my focus and choose to lie down promptly in that very spot, until a dose of affection was administered.)

      It’s hard to be angry at the likes of Clyde, because isn’t it what we all want in the end: To find and inhabit a place where we can hang out, refresh, and somehow feel reconnected to everything that’s really important in life? Sometimes it’s the place where we come face to face with personal demons or we’re forced to learn how to respond to others’ imperfections, as well as our own, or risk losing what’s precious to us.  At its best, it’s the place where we finally experience an acceptance of who we are and what others have chosen to be, and we make moment-by-moment decisions conducive to living harmoniously with those we care about.  It’s a “safe house” where the raw wounds of conflict and the war-weary symptoms of despair can again believe in healing and experience a new hope in things to come. 

     Finding a place we can call “Home” isn’t always easy these days, but I’m thankful for the gentle reminder that it’s not how much we have, but whether or not we’re willing to be a “home” for those in need—–even if it’s just for a nap, a biscuit, and a “see-you-later” send-off.   

 

Karen Weber

Sept. 24, 2013

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