It has been twelve weeks since we closed the doors on our last house, returned the keys, and saw all of our belongings get loaded into two trucks. Grace has surrounded us along the way.
Our movers patiently placed rugs and beds where asked. We discovered the joys of living in a neighborhood where bikes zip down alleys and children ring doorbells asking for playmates. We are learning the challenges of home ownership as we clip down overgrown raspberry bushes, weed unkempt gardens, have ceiling fans replaced, hang pictures, and find project after project to prioritize. We are beginning to know where to find fresh eggs and access the local Target. But, this is all mapping and orienting. Every place I go I do so with very new eyes. Every trip to the grocery store or the soccer field is filled with observation and a keen eye for all the details around us.
There is no denying that several mornings I awoke completely disoriented. Why was it so quiet? Where am I? After a few moments, I realized I was in our new home. Our former home was perched on a busy street with the sounds of people screaming most mornings, as nursing home staff changed shifts, and cars careened into our church parking lot next to our bedrooms. Now all I hear is silence punctuated by birds’ chatter.
Of course, everyone asks, “How are you settling in?” As I reflect on those words, I think they are apt. Life was turned upside down and now it is time to settle in.
As a parent, moving a family creates a sense of dread and anticipation all wrapped into one. With one child on the autistic spectrum, I was very fearful of the change that would take place. How would he adapt to the loss of his Legos social skills group, his sweet friends, and his tiny, independent school? I have been amazed that he has embraced his new room and his new school in stride.
My daughter lets everything roll off her back and has already managed to secure phone numbers from other parents to arrange playdates. But, it is our seven year old who seemed most blase about the move, who cannot fall asleep at night. For one, he is in a room by himself–which has not been the case in the seven years of his life. He comes to us crying and reporting scary faces and noises. Every night we find him pushed up against our bodies or holding his sister in a sweet embrace in her single bed. He can’t even seem to self-soothe anymore. And, I wonder about rituals and settling in and helping him find a way to fall asleep here.
When we departed from our last home, which was a three floor Victorian rectory, we took a bowl of water and a basting tool and each child said a prayer and sprinkled, or doused, a room with water.
We thanked God for each room and its purpose for us. We remembered funny stories and brought them up as we said good-bye to that space.
I have no idea whether this made our move more smooth. As my husband the social scientist would say, we have no counterfactual–no other way to measure that. But, a small part of me thinks that the liturgical action of blessing and acknowledging the presence of God in that place may have paved the way for them to settle into this new place.
I am not convinced it was providential, but I am thoroughly convinced that grace abounds. And in ritual and in prayer, we name and see grace.
Taking the time to gather as a family and bless our house, amidst the boxes being filled, signaled that surely the Lord was in that place. And, so I hope that in the coming weeks, we will gather in our new house, our Church House, bless each room, and sprinkle water noting that the presence of God goes with us wherever we are.
In the meantime, if anyone has some grand ideas to help the little guy fall asleep, I would gladly take them.
How have you marked times of change in your family life?