It’s taken ten days, when it usually takes me only three, but finally soul, spirit and body have fallen into happy agreement that we are home. At home, in fact, in Paradise. This unity of being is welcome and very good. I am no longer living in two or three disparate worlds, no longer split between present reality and the taunting dreams of yesterday, yesterweek, or yesterlife.
Outside my glorious new window ice-white sheets of heavy rain are rippling across the greening hill, the tall gums on the ridge completely veiled. There is no sound of wind tearing through their leaves this afternoon, only the cacophony of a downpour: solo drips, drops and splashes against a backing choir of white rain noise.
The rhythms of life are returning, and with them a wholeness that I can scarcely believe I had forgotten so easily. Somewhere further inside the house my Little One is watching her daily allowance of ABC 3 children’s programming (which for some reason she always refers to as “ABC 2”), having recently come inside from her usual round of trampoline bouncing and swinging on her “playground” (a swing set). My Favourite Wife and I are the ever appreciative audience for this performance, which we take in as we share our afternoon pot of tea in the cool of the day. Somewhere else inside the house the Favourite One is right now busily at work on the finishing touches of a sewing room, one of the not-insignificant advantages of adult children finally leaving home! As my cousin pointed out last week, you come home from holidays with “fresh eyes”; and indeed we did. We have potted plants, hung pictures, changed rooms, cleaned cupboards. It’s almost too farfetched to credit, but this mania even extended to a whip around the workshop!
Some years ago I greatly enjoyed an English preacher at one of our denominational conferences gently chiding those ministers who travel the airways, endlessly flitting from one pulpit to the next, seemingly never at home. (It occurs to me, only now, that this Brit was addressing us in Australia………….?). But his point was well made, and he illustrated it with Jesus’ own adult life, lived entirely within about a 70 km radius. “Go home”, our speaker intoned in rich English cadences, “And stay home! All that you need to learn about life and about men and about God you will learn there”. That is, perhaps, overstating it a little. I’m ever grateful for each of the many journeys I have made, and I rather think that travel can be the most broadening experience, especially in one’s youth. Nonetheless, I take his point: Home is rich in every way. Richer than we think.
Last night a visiting friend was summoned by my Favourite Wife to leave our couch during the tense Grand Slam final and bravely man our new Dyson Vacuum Cleaner: the perfect weapon against the robustly hirsute arachnids that creep into our home from the adjoining bushland. We have sucked up some whoppers in the few days we have been home. Monstrous huntsmen spiders, fiercely defying the upstretched nozzle! One particular specimen that I exposed to a deadly stream of negative air pressure would have spanned both my palms without trying. Uugh! My Best Girl loathes them more than anything else in all creation.
Except for one thing. There is one other creature in all the wide world that is more loathsome to her than sp*ders, and later in the evening she trod on one of these in the garage. Where the former horror has a terrifying leg count of eight, this creature has none at all: an evil concept entirely. Trod, barefoot, on a SN*KE. I daren’t say the word aloud for fear of starting another stampede!
Paradise is a place of great peace, great blessing, and also great challenge! And so it should be.