Sunday, March 31, 2013

Renting as a spiritual discipline

I miss living in a house.  I miss the sound the furnace makes when it turns on as I sprawl on the floor under a blanket above one of the vents.  I miss knowing the temperature is not controlled by the people below me blasting their heat they don't have to pay for until I'm in shorts and a t-shirt with all my windows open enjoying a balmy 83 degrees indoors as the snow falls outside.  I miss not having to turn up a DVD or music to block out the raging domestic arguments around me at night when I'm trying to unwind.  I miss control, silence, solitude, ownership of space.

House prices are decent right now.  My credit is excellent.  I could find a good place if I wanted.  I could have my control, silence, solitude, and ownership of space.  But the economy is still a little rocky.  Layoffs are happening; there is no job security, and I'm crippled and exhausted and in debt from being crippled and retraining myself to get a job despite being crippled.  It's probably not a good time to purchase a home.

But when will be a good time?  When will I be safe enough?  When will I be comfortable enough?

Maybe it's better to rent because it means I am not comfortable, not safe, not in control, not "owning" a place.  Maybe that reality can be seen as a reflection of the one where we are strangers, aliens, pilgrims passing through, peregrinating, as St. Augustine called it.  Every mortal life is but a breath, and all that, but we are to be even less attached because we know this place isn't home.  It's not our destination; it's our journey, etc. 

I long for rest, but I won't find it here, won't find it in the control, silence, solitude, and ownership of space here.  That's all an illusion. 

As a renter on a month-to-month lease, I am in an enviable situation.  I am flexible; I can be mobile should I be needed or should I find a more stable job elsewhere.  Wherever I am, I should be content.

Maybe until I am, I need to keep renting to remind myself that I don't belong here, that my real home is where my heart is, and my heart is with God even if I'm in this crappy apartment building listening to her yell at the toddler again and again as I have the AC on because it's warm enough for my allergies to prohibit opening the windows, but folks still have their heat on below me.  Some days it's a really good thing to know that this is not my home.

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