Thursday, December 18, 2014

In My Father's House There are Many Mansions...

In John 14:2, the Christian Bible reads "My Father's house has many rooms." This verse, actually a prooftext for Trinitarian Christianity, is not one you'll hear often in UU selections from the New Testament. And, actually, upon study of the Greek, a closer reading would be, My father's house has many mansions...

How can a house have mansions? The writer, alleged to be John, was trying to express an idea of the afterlife, where all souls would be compensated for their earthly faithfulness. When I read this passage, I hear a loving Jesus taking words from the Hebrew texts to comfort his followers about his imminent demise. I am going to be with our Father, and soon we will be together again.

Unitarians and Universalists don't focus upon the afterlife, so I'm going to take these words a bit differently. I've been living in my own father's house since August, the one he bought in about 1950 when he and his brother were both bachelors.

Let me just say that in this house there are many mansions with many, many rooms full of memories both wonderful and dreadful, and that all of them have been swirling about me in these past months, living here again after forty years of living in other places.

This is my room.. it used to to be my older brother's room. He read, a lot, and now he's an English professor. I won't talk about his memories, because they are his own, but I will say that my mother died in this room when my twin sister and I were 5 and our brother was 7.

This screened porch is the place where I read so many books as a young girl. There's a wisteria outside that my dad planted. I sometimes slept out on this porch in summer.

Nearby is a park now. I walk there frequently, and think about things. I marvel about getting older, time passing, and how different it would have been if that park were there when I was young. A place to go with my thoughts and dreams and wonderings.
Places: New Jersey has its own culture, and I never even realized this until I was away. Diners, drive-ins, fresh seafood, real pizza, lots of authentic Italian food, a certain attitude, the way people drive, a great directness and loyalty about the people. I never even knew how much I missed it. Part of me never wants to leave again.

This is my home. 

Most of all, these are my people.

There's even a Jazzercise less than 2 miles from my father's house! Remarkably, the house and our 4 acres is pretty much the same, but the surrounding community has grown, so I can access almost anything I want. Still, it feels pretty rural, and within a short drive, I'm back in the Pinelands.

Make new friends, but keep the old. This is Julie, I LOVE her! She's just the greatest woman I've met in Kentucky, and I've lived there fifteen years. 
Julie reminds me of the friends I had when I was a young mom, and had to move away from.. so smart & wise and thoughtful and authentic. So interested in ideas and not what she has or how she looks (although se is very lovely anyway :)


Back in New Jersey, I'm getting to spend time with some of my oldest and most wonderful friends. This is Linda, and no, were were not at Downton Abbey,  just at an exhibit in Delaware. I don't know whether it was me, or Kentucky, but I never had woman friends that I just hung out with and did things with. Here I've been out to breakfast and dinner and the movies, making cookies, and lots more with my old friends. And I'm looking forward to connecting with more of them. I asked myself what all of my most beloved friends had in common. Absolutely, all of them are people who love to learn, are interested in life and people, and who don't judge, who are genuine and whose hearts and  intentions are sincere. I have been so blessed to have such friends!

This Thanksgiving, we were all here at my father's house. All except my oldest son Casey. I've had a chance to reconnect with my stepmom as she struggles with early dementia, and with my younger sister. I've been closer to my daughter who is in Massachusetts. 

Best of all. I've had the space and the time to wander through the many mansions in my father's house. There are locked doors, long, dusty corridors, beautiful courtyards, quiet nooks, and disturbing haints. It's a good time to do this wandering, and wondering, and the mansions are vast.