Reminders of Home...

We're home again. Deep sigh of relief.

Obviously, for safety reasons, I don't announce when we've been gallivanting about, from one state to the next...but we have been! For almost 2 1/2 weeks! (And you may have surmised as much if you follow My Domestic Monastery on Instagram!)

Any parent with small children can relate to the feeling of simultaneously enjoying time with family (especially if your family doesn't live close by!) and yet walking in the door to your familiar abode and suddenly remembering...oh, right! This is what our home smells like! And this is what it looks and sounds like. I always enjoy seeing our girls come home from a long trip because you can just see them...relax.

But I can't help but think, sometimes, that I would like to stay with family longer, and maybe have the trip involve less crying, whining, pooping (or constipation, if your babies are anything like ours are when they're starting solids). No matter how topsy turvy the trip went - and this one ended on a crazy note with a baby refusing to sleep in her crib for nights on end and only sleeping when in physical contact with Mommy and screaming when she wasn't - there still is this feeling of let-down. Yes, you want to get home but the excitement of being surrounded by family or friends or a new place, the care shown by parents who parent you so that you can take a break from doing all the parenting, the comforts of the place you're visiting - especially family members willing to take turns holding a baby who screams if she is set down or out of sight of her mother - it can all seem so enticing sometimes. It can seem like home. And, if you take a trip like the one we just took (we visited my family, Andrew's family, and Notre Dame...even staying in a dorm on campus!) then maybe you were even in a place that once was home.

Then you walk through the door of your home and it hits you. The peace. The comfort. The familiarity of it all. (I can't remember Sister Stinky's exact words when she walked in the door, but it was something along the lines of, "Why our house is so not...different?!") You are just embraced by it. And you realize what you were secretly grasping at while you were gone. The familiar toys from home, the careful organizing and arranging of the rooms you stayed in while gone - all along you were grasping for reminders of home. Yes, the trip was wonderful. Yes it was good...but you weren't made to be constantly traveling. You were, ultimately, made to be home.

And so it is with heaven.

I haven't snagged Auntie Leila's amazing book yet (or Jen Fulweiler's for that matter, but I have a birthday coming up, so if you are reading this Andrew...hint, hint, wink, wink) but it sounds like she hits the nail on the nose with this one. Yes it is easy to get wound up in this world, because this world is a beautiful place, filled with beautiful things. But we need to have corners of this world carved out for ourselves, places and spaces where we can go to remember our true home.

Now, incidentally, this trip of ours contained some of those very precious places and spaces. Places where our hearts (both mine and Andrew's) have been touched in a particular way in the past. Places where God has implanted deep in us, a longing for heaven. The church we got married in (and have both spent plenty of time praying was one of my favorite spots to go and pray in late high school through college)...

The Carmelite monastery where we got engaged (and a place where I visited often while growing up)...

The National Shrine of St. Therese (Andrew didn't get to come along to this one this time, but I brought a precious friend who knows most details of our vocation story and who appreciated the significance of this place as much as we do)...

And a picture of her, too...because isn't she gorgeous?! I love this girl. And she's one of my only single friends, so feel free to send any Catholic guys her way. ;-)

We also visited an adoration chapel that is our go-to date spot when visiting Andrew's parents. But I didn't take a picture of that. I'll share with you a picture that the aforementioned friend took when she and I went there recently...

Of course, there were lots of spots at Notre Dame that had the same effect...

But do you know what another unexpected surprise was? The effect being in my childhood home had on me. I've shared before details of the little domestic monastery I grew up in. One of the gifts of my parents' home (and this applies to Andrew's parents' home, too) is that it is filled with little reminders of heaven. The Last Supper picture that has been hanging in my parents' kitchen since as long as I can remember. Crucifixes and/or religious images in every room. Prayer books, well-worn and tucked into the nooks where they can be easily found. A plastic bin of rosaries (actually, that's more because my dad is currently the religion teacher for their parish school, but still.) Their own "little oratory".... 

(I notice the same little reminders in corners of the Chronister home, too - an icon on a bookshelf, a crucifix on the dresser, a picture of their Cardinal, etc, and my favorite - a Magnificat on the side table in the family room!)

In both of our family homes, these reminders are not pretentious at all. They are subtle, but they are everywhere. They imbue the home with reminders that this world is not our home. 

That's why Auntie Leila's book is so helpful, and why I'm looking forward to reading it so much. It is so easy to get caught in the trappings of this journey on earth, to feel like it is our home. And yet, and yet...something doesn't feel quite right. We find ourselves grasping for something. Then we step into a familiar church, walk the grounds of a monastery, wander into an adoration chapel, or rest our gaze on an icon in our family home and it hits us. We are overcome - however momentarily - with that same feeling you get when you walk back in the door after a long trip away from home. There is a moment of, "Oh, that's what home feels like. That's what it looks like/smells like/sounds like." For just a moment, we find relief and peace.

Andrew and I have talked about this before, in decorating our own home. We don't have much non-religious art up simply because we're both so drawn to icons. I told Andrew once, years ago, "It reminds me of our true home. I want us to be able to look around our home and have reminders of our real home." And he wholeheartedly agrees. These icons and the like fill our home with those moments of peace. When the trip seems too long, a glance at these images in our home reminds us, "This is just the trip. We can enjoy it for all it's worth - but there is a much better home waiting for us."

And one day, we'll walk through the door of that true home, take a deep breath, set down our baggage and say, "Oh, right. This is home."


  1. Haha, thanks friend;) <3 Those two pictures from the St. Therese shrine are a few of over 100 that I took, mostly of the girls. Typical me:) But seriously, if anyone knows any single, 20-something, Catholic guys on the north side of Chicago.....

  2. This is a beautiful reflection, thank you for sharing.


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