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  • Writer's pictureJulia Roach

An Easter Week Entry


 

In the Face of Flowers: Artist, Julia Roach

 

One of the most difficult aspects of divorce for me was moving out of the home where our children were raised. I had lived there for about 18 years which was longer than any place I had called “home” before. My core fear was that my children would not feel “at home” anywhere other than the one they had known. The overhead and upkeep was more than I could manage so I had to release it. Thankfully, their dad was able to keep the house. While it had been a mutual investment, I spent years layering the space with a maternal spirit to increase the experience of warmth and comfort. I felt somewhat like I had become part of the contents that were about to be moved and wondered how I would be received by my children, friends and our community without the house shaped container that my identity had been poured into.

Right before the divorce was finalized, I remember taking my daughter, who was 8 years old at the time, for her initial viewing. It was winter. Our appointment was later in the afternoon. The homeowner, being a single mom herself, had been turning down the thermostat while away at work in order to save money. Our entry was initially chilly and dim. The home smelled unfamiliar as well. Jane and I followed our realtor as she switched on the overhead lighting. Ceiling lights have always given me a vague, homesick notion and oddly enough, my daughter has the same feeling about blue, cloudless days where the sun shines above her. With each light illuminated, all of the sources of unfamiliar smells became visible. The current owner had installed snap-in, synthetic wood flooring so there was a combination of scented cat litter, people we had never met, a leather sectional, and while the home was well kept, attractive and clean, it had a fragrance of emptiness.

My first tendency has always been to filter what’s actual through the grid of what is possible. I began examining the home’s potential, moving back and forth between my vantage point as a mother and my daughter’s. After our walk through, our agent went back upstairs to turn off the lights when Jane tenderly took hold of my arm and asked me, “Mommy, can you make this homey?” I could see the uncertainty and fear moving around inside her. I knelt down closer, peered into her searching eyes and responded that I was able. My love (imperfect as it is) and confident commitment were all she needed to be comforted. Jane’s heart believed and accepted my answer as though it had already been accomplished. Her childlike faith impressed something into my adulthood that overshadowed anything my five senses could garner. My daughter provided an example of childlike trust. The discrepancy between my words of faith and the disbelief within my heart were uncovered by her untainted vulnerability. Our home image had become an idol. It became the definition of who I was as a mother (and as a wife) and my identity had become the measuring rod for me as a woman.

We have been in this house for six years now. Every single day I am thankful for this home. It has provided a refuge and space for healing. It has not been an easy journey for any of us. This morning, Holy week begins. It’s a week until Easter and with the Covid-19 pandemic looming, we are not immune to the fear and anxiety. There are shrinking IRAs, the possibility of a sparse job market and budget cuts which could possibly affect my new vocation. The future appears much hazier and less inviting than it did a few months ago. I found myself beginning to evaluate what could be made from the bones of this situation, returning to my natural propensity to identify possibilities amidst actualities. Yet this time, it is the hands of my own heart reaching, searching and repeating a similar question from 6 years ago. I need reassurance, no matter what happens, that we will have a Home. And perfectly, lovingly and divinely confident, the Head of my heart and the Heart of my life, moves compassionately into my uncertainty. God looks into the eyes of my heart and gently reassures, “Yes, I am.”

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