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If these walls could talk


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10/01/2007 - In October when winter is near, I feel grateful to have a place to call home. We in the interior design field spend most of our time fine-tuning the details of luxury. It's good to step back and examine the actual essential qualities that make a home. I wrote the following essay last October. I hope in reading it, you will join me in feeling gratitude.


"I thought they needed the place more than I did" said my friend Keith in reference to the homeless family he'd allowed to move into his campaign headquarters. It was a few days before the election and we'd stopped by the one-room storefront location to use his paper cutter. I glanced around the makeshift living quarters and thought about the concept of home.

What are the essentials of home? The most basic, of course, is shelter from extreme weather. Fragile warm-blooded creatures that we are, the weather could kill us. I remember in my art history studies, reading about a 19th century sculptor who died of exposure in his unheated sleeping space. His sculptures had been stored by a wealthy patron. His person was apparently less welcome.

Second to shelter from the storm, comes a safe place to sleep unmolested by man or beast. Here I think of the biblical account of the angels whom Lot brought into his home to protect from the marauding gangs which wandered the night. Apparently, the public square wasn't a good place to sleep even then.

Next come the basics for food preparation and storage. Then the body-care facilities--- a place to dispose of bodily wastes, bathe and clean one's clothing. After that is the luxury of a private place for making love or having an un-overheard conversation.

Finally, home is also the place where we store our possessions. One theory of the history of clothing suggests that man began wearing clothes because he needed pockets. Our homes are in one way like giant-sized pockets. They are the cache of everything we can't carry with us.

The simple one-room shelter provided by the displaced campaign headquarters managed to provide all of the essentials of home--- heat, a locking door, a place to feed and cleanse oneself, some basic privacy, and a little storage. I've stayed in worse hotels, and a few times when snow prevented my return to my home on the mountain, I slept in far less comfortable circumstances. Yet even so, as I glanced around the space, I wondered if there were children in that homeless family. I couldn't bring myself to leave until I'd forced the rusty safety latch on the paper cutter to lock the blade into place--- those little fingers you know.

Hebrews 13:2, Mathew 25:35-40, Luke 7:44-47, Luke 9:58

Ways to help: Central Wyoming Rescue Mission, Habitat for Humanity, Seton House

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