Our Relentless Search for Home

Our Relentless Search for Home

by Cathee Poulsen

Earlier this year, and for a myriad of reasons, Bob and I decided to put Simplicity Cottage on the market. It’s an older house, after all, and we felt that in days to come we’d do better on a more level piece of ground. It seems destiny had other plans.

Over the seven months it’s been listed, I’ve often wondered what it will feel like to drive away from a house that has held the joys, tears, celebrations, births, deaths and love of five generations. On days that I’m up as the day rises to meet the sun, I try to memorize the slant of morning light through the moss, or the glint of sunlight on the lake, turtle heads popping up here and there or my favorite tri-colored heron foraging for breakfast. Never getting very far without that knot rising in my throat, and tears close behind. I’ve never been sure I could pull it off.

And as it turns out, I won’t have to. This week we took it off the market. We’re staying. It’s just where we belong, it seems.

A Sense of Place

The search for home, whether spiritual, actual or philosophical, is inborn. Whether depicted in literature such as the Odyssey, the Bible (Moses and Jacob) or movies – The Lord of the Rings – we cannot get away from that drive to find the place where we know we belong. According to Acts 17, it is an appointed place. One that God sets for us.

“…since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.  And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings…for in Him we live and move and have our being.” v.25-28.

If where we live is “preappointed,” shouldn’t we love where we live? It makes me a little sad to hear people say they hate where they live, or they wish they could just pick up and move somewhere else. And maybe they should. Maybe they aren’t in their preappointed place yet. It’s a question worth asking ourselves.

There’s a term used in winemaking that is also a metaphor for this topic of place and home. It’s another word for “the taste of the place.” Wines take on the flavor and even the texture of the area in which they’re grown. The type of soil, the weather, the climate, elevation — all influence the grape and thus the wine. And the same applies to us. The life I lived in Naples for 30 years, is not the life I live in Lake Placid. Much of that is due to a different sense of place and influence.

I’ve come to love this quirky little town with it’s fields of caladiums, real cowboys, miles and miles of orange groves and 27 lakes. I love my local assembly of believers and the joy we share in worshipping together every Sunday. I love that I have a community here who cares about each other and about their children, making all kinds of sacrifices to see that they are well-equipped for school. That teachers here take their jobs seriously and personally invest in their classrooms.

But what I’ve come to love and appreciate best of all is my old house. It’s 51 years old this year and looks better than when it was first built. I love the “lake of shining waters” as Anne of Green Gables would call it. The birds and fish and squirrels and rabbits. I know I belong here in this line of history that dates back half a century.

And I love its name: Simplicity Cottage. When we came her to ski in our teens we always said, “We’re going to the lake.” The house didn’t have a name. But my friend Fran Lankford always called it “the cottage.” In 2009 when we left a 3000 square foot home to move to one half that size, I accepted the task of simplifying. Cutting away, decluttering, paring down. And so, mainly as a joke at first, I said I was moving to Simplicity Cottage. But the name stuck and now I will always call it that.

But while all these things are of great importance to me, they aren’t the best part.

Finding Rivendell

If our house had sold, and we bought the lot we had our eyes on, I would have called our new home Rivendell Cottage. Those of you who are Lord of the Rings fans, know the place well. It was a point of refuge in the long, grueling journey to return the ring to the fires of Mordor. It is surrounded by pines and oak trees and a river runs through it and is actually the dwelling of angelic beings. It was here that the fellowship of the ring was formed and each person received a gift to aid them on the long trek ahead.

Okay, okay. So I’m getting a little carried away, you think. But I know I’m not. About twenty years ago Bob and I made a pledge to ourselves and to all who enter our home, that it would be a place of peace and comfort. Guests would be welcomed and received as sent by the Lord to our dwelling. It would be, in essence if not literally, a place of crackling fires and deep space of refuge, hospitality, conversation, good food and drink – all part of our calling. We had a long table built that can seat twelve and we’ve learned to linger over meals with talks about our lives and hopes and dreams.

People’s hearts are what matters most and we pray actively that every person who crosses our threshold enters a space like that. When new friends come, after a time in Simplicity Cottage, they’ll say, “There’s just something about this house. I feel such peace here.” and Bob and I glance at each other with crooked grins because we know it’s all real. And that God answered our prayer in the most amazing way.

Our Relentless Search

We are all looking for home. Our hearts long for a place that I just described. Our house is an imperfect replica for what is yet to come. And the deepest truth of it all is this: the day we understand the words of Jesus in His final discussion with the guys He chose to hang with, and for us who would believe later —

I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:20-23

…on the day that we understand this, we will be home. For to be “home” is to know that we are in Him, and He is in us, and we are all in the Father. While in the Old Testament God said He does not share His glory with another, here Jesus says He has shared His glory with us. Can you even imagine? And He meant here and now — not later in heaven. Our glory is to be “rooted and grounded in Him” and that is the same as being home.

We thought we would be moving, but instead we ended up right where we began. So much of our lives are cyclical, and this town, our church home, and this house have all pointed to these lines from T.S. Elliott’s poem Little Gidding, with which I’ll close.

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

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Comments

  1. Cathee, This has to be one of your best blogs yet! I’m thrilled that you’ve finally decided to stay in your lovely cottage your parents built, holds countless memories and has been in your family for so many years!

    Knowing she never held back her emotions, Munner must be doing a happy dance in Heaven!

    Love, blessings and best wishes, Mireya <

  2. Cathee, I’m at Higgins Lake with Denny and we just finished reading your blog. It brought up things in both of us about our homes and where The Lord would have us be dwelling….ultimately.
    Thank you for sharing your journey so elegantly. When I’m in Naples working, hosting and living life, I haven’t taken the time to read blogs. A missed opportunity on my part!
    I love you!

  3. Oh what a lovely blog. Home, it has its own special meaning for each of us it seems. I’m not much at describing my feelings sometimes, but this made me think of what a home of belonging means to me. I have only lived in a home most of my life for only a few months to just a few years, so I’ve not really had a “home history” like yours. I too, have searched in vain at times for that pre-appointed place and discovered only in the last several years that my heart was going to be the home that I never had history with. Praise God for that peace and understanding.
    My heart was embedded then with the One who guards and provides a satisfaction of contentment and belonging that I am very confident with it being my “dwelling place of belonging”, wherever it goes in my life journey.

    Thanks again for causing me to be grateful. Love ya, Erma

  4. G. Polly Jordan :

    Stunningly beautiful. Paints a new picture of your lovely place that I miss so much. I am so happy you are staying. The blog is so delightful and so peaceful indeed.

  5. I’m forever grateful to have known the peace and welcoming spirit of Simplicity Cottage. Such a loving place.

  6. YES! So glad you feel you should remain in Simplicity Cottage. It is truly home-sweet-home. Filled with tranquility and the presence of Christ, any who visit for even a short time should feel the refreshment I felt when I stayed with you. My heart is so very full after reading your blog. Home is where the heart is . . . where the presence of Christ presides . . . where the anxious heart finds peace.
    The Lord will lead you to the next place when it is time. For now, enJOY!

  7. Greg G Billings :

    We are very happy for you and Bob.

    And as you write, Sara and I have just listed our home. We know not where we will go, but we know we are done here. We are ready for our next adventure. We will follow Gods path with out fear or apprehension.

  8. Patti Shaffer :

    Cathee, Beautiful, descriptive words that match my heart. Words that make me ponder, reflect and count the many blessings and memories I cherish, as well. Thank you for your thoughtful penning.

  9. Doylynn (Lynne) Lawler :

    Oh Cathee, what a lovely piece! I didn’t realize your parents build Simplicity Cottage…what a treasure! I miss the lovely Lake Placid area and our church and all of you. I am hoping Mark and I will have the opportunity to come worship there soon. 🙂

    We love our newly adopted little town and are prayerfully considering a name for our wee little house. We want it too to be a place of peace and welcome.

    Love you~
    Lynne Jones Lawler

  10. Suzette Gibson :

    Cathee,
    This is wonderful. I’m glad you’ll remain in Lake Placid.
    I can’t picture you anywhere else.
    Love to you and Bob.

  11. Fran Lankford :

    Ahh, memories! My mind traveled back to listening to your Mom speak of the lake home (cottage) before I ever set foot across the threshold. I remember the excitement of traveling to Lake Placid, the plans, preparing meals, quiet times, such fun times, movies, writing, resting, family, friends, working outside, getting locked out, dreaming huge and outlandish dreams, and the list goes on. Remembering sharing the memorabilia saved from your parents. You could feel the years of shared experiences in the air. Home. I have lived in many homes and have often said that I am at home wherever I happen to be. I am one of those travelers, just passing through. God has given me the gift of contentment, but I will always think of Simplicity Cottage as home.

  12. I do believe the Lord has shown you the way. What you described at Simplicity Cottage may not be found else where. After 40 years I turned the main house over to Kimberly and her two children and moved to the guest house. It was to much house for me and the guest house wasn’t big enough for Kim’s family. All I need is a place to lay my head and plug in my coffee pot. The main house was all Gail and I could do nothing there without becoming emotional. Gail and I had discussed this and I know she is pleased with my decision. I write this with tears for my Gail.
    Stop by anytime.

  13. Cathee,
    I heard a very wise saying that I keep in my heart: “wherever I go…. there I am!”
    Wherever God leads us, that is the perfect place for us. Sometimes He has us stay and sometimes He has us change our location.

  14. Jeremie Poulsen :

    God is always on time…I, of course was super happy to read this! My first memory of “Simplicity
    Cottage” was going with Dorothy and our bible study and then we called it “The lake house”. Never knew that my future held in store more memories to make there with all of you! But I do know the feeling that envelopes you when your there! Thankful that we can continue to make memories with you and Bob. Love you both so much. Thank you for a beautiful message.

  15. YAY!!!!!!

  16. Diane Ferguson :

    Thank you again sister for a transmission from God. I am still looking for that place and it has given my heart a new hope. I am no longer living in lake Placid after retirement and miss the community as well as chaplain Poulsen but had to answer the call and leave to south Florida. I miss my then home and are searching for my now home. Thank you for your words; They made my heart a little happier and my search more sure. God bless you.

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