Where Do We Dwell?

I often think of my life as a house.  In my mind’s eye, it is designed very closely to our dream house in reality: there are two wings, joined by an open-air atrium in between.  From the atrium, you can see fully into both wings, and the decor of each wing spills over into the atrium, mixing into quite an eclectic decorative scheme.

On one side is the Turmoil wing.  It is decorated darkly and starkly, it’s a mess, and demons can often be found there as house-guests.  Scattered throughout the wing are reminders of the past: mementos of heartaches, tears, pains, struggles.  They are permanent additions; I’m not allowed to get rid of them entirely.  It is nearly impossible to feel at ease here.

On the other side is the Peace wing.  Its decor is bright and airy, and not surprisingly, peaceful.  It is pretty much immaculate all of the time, sometimes because I pick up after myself.  And sometimes because angels, who are my silent house-guests in this wing, do the cleaning.  Sometimes I see them do it. Sometimes I just notice it got clean while I wasn’t looking.  Scattered throughout the Peace wing are photos and mementos of happy milestones and loved ones.   Each piece, no matter how tacky, holds a memory that makes my heart soar, if only just a bit.  This is altogether a happy place, and here I can rest.  

Now, I think all of our houses are designed like this.  And life is not lived in either wing, it is lived in the atrium, where pieces of each wing spill over and mix together in a strange incongruent sort of decor;  where we can turn and look into each wing and see all that they hold, and what’s going on in them.  We have no choice in the matter: this is where we live.

But, where do we dwell? 

Where are we drawn to lay our heads when we are weary?

In this matter, I consider myself the luckiest man on earth. 

Up until my thirties or so, I mostly dwelled in the Turmoil wing.  I thrived there, I wallowed in the decor.  I’ll admit, it made me a better writer; my writing was biting,and incisive, and could always, always bring tears.  From the doorway, I could see across to the Peace wing.  Although a small part of me longed to go over there, I mostly considered the idea boring, and the demons whispering in my ear convinced me of that fact.  Besides, I had friends over here, I thought.  They played a little rough, but I felt safe in their company.  And, even if I wanted to go over there, the atrium was open to the elements; the crossing could be dangerous.

Now, I can’t point out exactly when it happened.  I think it was a slow transition, because one morning I just woke up and I was in my bed in the Peace wing.  I noticed, “This isn’t boring!  It’s perfect”.  And that is where I have laid my head ever since.

Oh, I haven’t totally abandoned the Turmoil wing (for some reason, I’m not allowed to).  Every now and then I’ll journey over there, and make sure the demons have enough beer and fluffy pillows.  But I do not linger there long, as in the days of my youth.  I desire to go “home”.

I thought of this the other day,when I noticed almost all of my blogging friends going through such turmoil.  My goodness, there is a lot of pain lately.  I pray for each and every one of you, and I’ll do anything you ask to help get you through these times.  Believe me, you mean so much to me, your pain goes into my Turmoil wing, lest I forget.  Yet, I will aways guard our friendships and put them in places of honor in the Peace wing.

Anyway, I thought about how the world must see me (from reading Shoot The Moose).  Because of the particular time I started this blog, I come across as somewhat of a pollyanna.  Compared to 99% of the world, I’m wealthy.  I almost never have health problems. (I wish you could see me knocking on wood).  I have a very good job, that I love.  I’m always going on and on about my beautiful children, and my beautiful wife, and my beautiful house in a beautiful part of town.  I lead a very fulfilling, almost exciting life.

And all of these things are true.

Yet, sitting over there, I can see it from where I sit, there is turmoil.  Here in the atrium, it spills over and bumps into me, forcing me to move from time to time.  There are mementos of illness, and deaths of loved ones.  There are whole sections decorated with the pain of infertility.  One of the back rooms, where I try to avoid at all costs, is filled with my most unfortunate youth.  There is pain, and rejection, and shame of being “white trash”.  There is loneliness, lots of loneliness.   There is extreme material loss.  There is the heartache of watching a dear loved one wither away from a vibrant youth, stricken with an incurable, slowly debilitating disease.  One that I love as a brother (because he IS my brother), has gone from being the greatest guitarist I ever knew,to being unable to hold a guitar up to play it.  There is the fear and care of watching my parents impoverish themselves taking care of him, and worry about their stubborn refusal to let their other sons share the burden.  There is the general care and pain of living with other people, of being a parent and husband, and all the little heartaches that go along with them.

And as I get older, I know new additions are coming, with illnesses and deaths of immediate family and dear friends, and my own health failing.  I dread to see them erected.

Turmoil is always there, and the demons therein are not shy of pointing it all out and mocking me.  “HERE is your home!”, they taunt.  “Come back, have a beer and join us in cursing the wretchedness of life!”

Yet, my head is turned to the Peace wing.  The angels sing beautifully and remind me of all the good in my life.  Their song reminds me that, in time, all mementos in the turmoil wing will be melted in the hottest of fires and molded into the most beautiful gold items I have ever seen.  Their call is irresistible, and I am drawn to Peace. 

My life is lived in the atrium.  I am surrounded by Turmoil and Peace.  But I have been given a miraculous gift.  

I dwell in Peace.

I don’t know how it happened, or where. I am no better than anyone else (probably worse).  I have a huge Turmoil wing in my life, yet, most of the time I my eyes are turned elsewhere.  For this, for the draw of Peace, I will thank God through all eternity.

I hope, no I pray, that you can lay your head in the room of Peace.  Turmoil is still there; it will always be there, until it is burned down and all of its contents forged into Beauty.  I know it’s alluring to linger there.

But the angels are singing, calling to you.  Can’t you hear them?


One Response to “Where Do We Dwell?”

  1. Warrior Says:

    The trouble with hearing angels is that, so often, we don’t think their song is for us. They are just out there, somewhere, and their song is for sometime in the future, maybe. But the demons are there ready to affect our lives 24/7/365. It takes a true leap of faith to realize that Peace always trumps Turmoil (just look at MLK, jr or Ghandi, for example). Peace is always a stronger, yet tougher, choice. Which may be why Peace is “beyond understanding”.

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