Refitting the empty nest
By JOAN BAY KLOPE
Whidbey News Times Columnist
January 8, 2010 · Updated 1:08 PM
The letter arrived during Christmas break, filling me with utter joy and sorrow, all at once: the last Klope child has been accepted to the college of his choice. Pride fills my heart. Moments later I walk down the hall and gaze into his bedroom. He will leave our home this fall and all the kid bedrooms, once housing three busy children, will be silent.
“What will you do with all those bedrooms?” a friend asked after I shared the great news about our son’s plans to leave for college in a matter of months. “Will they remain untouched or will you re-purpose them?”
I’ve based my decision to redefine the use of these bedrooms in part on my children’s cues. They seem comfortable with the notion that a home be organized around the current interests and needs of those residing in the home.
I began recently with the room once inhabited by the child who is now a fifth grade teacher. A window affords a great view of our property and the driveway, so I can see who is coming and going while I work. The newly painted walls, now a rich country yellow, draw the sunshine in. And a new phone system allows me to page my husband in his shop, his playground of choice when he’s home. This room may be empty of our wonderful first born, but is now filled with books and photos and art. It is a space I can manage our household and think my own thoughts. It’s a space I can ask God to enter.
To get to this moment I needed to change my attitude toward the room and learn how to make use of it for something other than raising a child. It cried out to be an attractive sanctuary rather than a storage facility. I took my time. Any chance possible I crept into the room to contemplate what I might do to rearrange the space so I could cozy up, work hard and dream.
I have enjoyed every minute of the contemplating, even though I know my husband wondered at times what could possibly be accomplished by sitting quietly in a child’s room. With little fanfare and no announcement whatsoever, I slowly began the boxing and reorganizing. Paint swatches were taped to the walls for a time. One day I felt the energy building. I caught a vision for the room. The potential was enticing.
The changes go beyond rearranging, reorganizing and re-envisioning how I might harness my talents and dreams in that room. It’s about reworking my heart’s attitude toward my surroundings. How I can make use of each room in my home to soothe and expand my character so I can be the wife, daughter, friend, mother, and child of God I long to be?
God has a few things to say about home. In fact, He uses the visual of a home to explain that He wants to become our dwelling place. He wants us to enter His presence and truly live. He does not want us to treat Him as if He were a fine book of philosophy to be perused when life is good and we feel like some pleasant introspection. He does not want to be the vacation side trip when we long for adventure or a phone book listing to be called in an emergency. He intends to be more than the Great Creator, whom we manage to worship through song, rejoice at the moment of birth, or marvel when climbing a mountain. He longs to be more than the occasional miracle worker whose story is relayed by a visiting missionary.
At home with God. Entering it with anticipation. Oh, the wonder.
Let’s prepare the room.