I move house on Friday.
I have lived in this house for 9 years. It is 100 years old, with high ceilings and thick walls. This house began life in the centre of a small-holding, surrounded by vegetable gardens and a few cows. The garage and store room at the end of the garden used to be a cow-shed.
It has been the property of the Plumstead Methodist Church from 1928, and I have had a succession of colleagues come to visit me and reminisce about their life under this roof. It has been my place of shelter – both from the winter storms that accompany life in Cape Town; and from the emotional and spiritual storms of life as a husband, father, pastor, and human being.
• This house was the safe place to which I returned when life threatened to crush my spirit; it was the place of a garden that soothed my troubled spirit; it was the back yard of many sociable braais with friends; it has been the place of the fireplace in winter that warmed many conversations; it has been the refuge of high, cool ceilings when the summer heat was beating down on the city.
• This house contained a family of six: me, Jenny, our daughters Lisa, Jessie and Amy, and Granny. But it has also been home to many who have stayed awhile: I think of Greg, who makes Jessie happy, and has chosen to see this as another home; Jen has blessed our family by joining us from South Dakota; John is an Englishman who brought his passion for running and English rugby. I celebrate the many, many overnight guests who chose to sleep under this roof. We have been blessed by their stopping by.
• This house has had bunnies at the end of the garden; and dogs who roamed the garden and the drive way; and a cat who prowled the property in a vain attempt to see off the neighbourhood cats; and a tortoise from Carnarvon; and lots of squirrels.....(oh the joy of Nugget our Great Dane/Labrador when, after years of vainly dashing after them he finally caught one).
• This house has seen my children through high school and university. Two of them left for a year to live far away in other countries – and this house was the home to which they returned.
And now I leave for the next chapter of my life: another step in my pilgrimage of faithful response to God’s call on my life; to another city – and another house. In so doing, I find this quote from Henri Nouwen very helpful:
"[Praying] demands that you take to the road again and again, leaving your house and looking forward to a new land for yourself and your [fellow human]. This is why praying demands poverty, that is, the readiness to live a life in which you have nothing to lose so that you always begin afresh." - Henri J.M. Nouwen, With Open Hands