As I stood at the galley sink washing dishes this morning, I happened to look down and read the bottom of the plate I was placing in the drying rack. Today’s Home, Made in China, it said. I’ve looked at the bottom of that dish dozens of times and never thought about that phrase. But it struck me today that even the bottom of a plate can have meaning if you’re in the right frame of mind. Several meanings, actually.
First, today’s home in America is just full of stuff made in China. Our land house is in a neighborhood built in the 1960’s, sherbet-colored ranch homes with white tile roofs. They look a little bit like they were stamped out in a factory. Made in China is not a compliment. Stuff made in China doesn’t last. It makes me pause and ask myself: am I building a home, a legacy with my family, that will last? Or am I still so obsessed with taking care of my things—buying things, cleaning things, or putting things away, that I forget to focus on the people around me? How upset do I get when the small person assigned to dish duty accidentally breaks my favorite coffee cup (which was probably made in China)? I usually catch myself before I shout something mean or stupid—and say instead, “It’s just a cup. It’s just a cup. It’s okay. It’s just a cup.” But I still have to remind myself, so what does that say about me? I don’t want a home made in China. I want a home that can handle some wear and tear without crumbling. A little wisdom from King Solomon says a wise woman builds her home, but a foolish one tears it down with her own hands. O, Lord, let me be wise!
Second, Today’s Home is a reminder to be content. Wherever home is, be it on land or on the water, I must remember home is where I am right now. That question, What is a home? has taken on a lot of meaning for me as I go between places. It’s easy to feel fractured, homeless even, as we pack and unpack and then pack again. The only definition that fits: home is where my family is. Home is enjoying a book on tape together in the truck on the way to Bradenton. Home is a day working or playing on the boat. Home is tucking everyone into their beds and spending some quiet time in the evening with Jay. It doesn’t really matter where these things happen. The love we share and the burdens we bear together are what make us a family and wherever we are together is home. Today’s home might be in Clearwater, or it might be the Gulf of Mexico. Home is wherever we are today.
Lastly, I must find my home in today: today is home. It is easy to live in tomorrow, its uncertainty gives me endless things to ponder or worry about, imagine, question, or dream up. It’s also easy to live in yesterday. There, too, are things to regret, remember, and wonder: What would have happened if…? I wish I had… I wish I had not…What would I do differently next time? But living in those two places keeps me from living in today. Today is where the youngest child is learning to talk, where the children run in the grass and laugh about silly things, where the sun is shining or the rain is falling, or the cinnamon smell of oatmeal-raisin cookies fills the house. I must enjoy the gift of today, devour it and revel in it, and not waste a minute. I find it interesting that God is called by the name “I AM”—although He was, is, and is to come, his name is given in the present. It is crystal clear: today’s home. Not tomorrow. Not yesterday. Today.
As we get ready to kiss the old year good-bye and greet a new one with hopeful faces upturned, may we refuse to worry about tomorrow or regret yesterday. May we be content with whatever blessings we have. May we build things that last. May we spend more time laughing and singing and admiring the view and less time searching for meaning in the bottom of the kitchen sink.