My family is closing Friday on the Kempf family homestead, a three bedroom (with a 4th added in the basement when my sister was born) that housed us 6 kids and mom and dad. It is the only ‘house’ I have ever known. (I have known 7 rectories – 3 as a transitional deacon and 4 as a priest.) So the event is a little bitter-sweet.
On one hand, the family is glad that the house, vacant since mom moved into Our Lady of Life Senior apartments, will now have someone occupying its space and creating their own memories of the place. My brother-in-law and his kids are glad that it is gone before the summer grass cutting season hit with a vengeance. Mom is glad to be out from the utilities and taxes. I am glad that everything is out of there, and ready for the new owner. Life moves on.
On the other hand, the phrase: “You can never go home again” takes on a new and more profound meaning. In our family ‘farewell’ to the house Easter Sunday, we journeyed from room to room, retelling the memories and the stories of all that we did and all that went right and even some of the things that went wrong. (Like the black charred marks in the hardwood floor, one from an iron [“Oops”, said mom] and one from a fireworks malfunction [“Oops!” said the spirit of my father].)
We stood in the back yard and remembered the perpetual bare spots in the grass from the endless games of wiffle ball and bottle caps and goal-to-goal soccer. There was still the trace of the indentation in the ground from a 5th of July collection of all the gunpowder from unexploded fireworks where my brother Dennis inadvertently created about a ¼ stick of dynamite by putting a circular smoke bomb in the top. He thought it would shoot in the air. Instead it sealed the tube and created the loudest explosion I remember.
And so it went – our time of being grateful for the place and spaces that nurtured us and provided the framework around which our family grew and felt protected, strengthened and nurtured for the lives to which God called us.
If it is true, (and I believe it is) that the spaces and communities where we live have a way of calling us and preparing us for our roles in the world, (as 7433 Brightwood did for the Kempf family) then a question for all of us this Divine Mercy Sunday is simply this: What is our St. Ann home calling us and preparing us to do NOW, so that we can spread the Good News of the love of God in our time and place?