A friend asked me recently if there was a place where the pieces that I write might be found gathered together. An abiding place. A home. Good questions generate good thinking. So here it is, my “Writing Home”.
Home is a place for beginnings, and for new beginnings. It’s a place to be, a place to set out from, and a place to return to again after adventures. Home is a place of rest and refuge; of welcome and restoration.
The Irish house that I call home is old and rambling, and is surrounded by a pretty, but mostly untidy garden. There are lots of trees. The little corner of the globe in which our house stands has played a quietly remarkable part in Irish Christian history.
Life itself might be considered as a journey homewards, but along the way there are important things to do. The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah wrote to a letter to his fellow countrymen in exile, and instructed them to:
“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce…seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you” (Jeremiah 29: 5-7).
And when the dwellers-in-exile came back home again, lots of re-building awaited them. Reading and writing, and learning and creating, are integral to our human story of dwelling and journeying and building and rebuilding. They are perhaps just as vital as building physical houses, and planting and tending physical gardens.
These days, I spend most of my time here in my home in the Irish countryside, living with my husband and three grown-up children, reading and writing, preparing to teach, and wondering about all things beautiful and perplexing and bright. When I do have the opportunity to wander a little further afield, I like to write home about it.
The first book I read this New Year was J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. It made me think that I’d like our home to resemble the “Last Homely House”. In the story, it is the home of Elrond:
“His house was perfect whether you liked food, or sleep or work, or storytelling, or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all.”
In a similar way, I’d like this site to be a source of encouragement, good company, and conversation. I hope that visitors here will find joy in things that are beautiful, like interesting people, language and travel; poetry, music and art; learning, teaching, and faith.
There may be tales of journeying, and tales of long ago. And there may be tales of new things. As time goes by, I look forward to welcoming old friends and new – to read, yes, and perhaps also to write. But I’d like all who make their way here to find helpful kindling for thinking and the imagination and creativity, so that they might, in turn, be put to good work. In other words, I’d like this “writing home” to promote the nourishing of things that are lovely.
I hope I will be able to welcome you here again soon.