So, here we are. Stuck at home.

For many, the situation is challenging, frustrating and claustrophobic.  With children home from school, it may seem impossible to meet everybody’s needs at the same time.  Many of us are also working from home, trying to meet deadlines, sanitize every surface and hidden crevice and figure out how we are going to get groceries without leaving the house and putting ourselves or our families in jeopardy.

There may be chaos and clutter and confusion, but there is something else – love.

Where there is love, there is God.  We may be confined for a time, but it may make a difference to know we are confined in a sacred place.

My understanding of home as a sacred space came about slowly as I grew up, but one ordinary experience was an important lesson.

When I was in high school, I took the city bus to school every day, even in the snow. One winter evening, after a day-long snow fall, I got off the bus to walk down the street to my house – a walk I took daily. It was a crisp night, frosty enough for my breath to be visible but not so cold as to be uncomfortable. Except for the crunch of my boots on the snow, there was a calm silence.

The moon hung brightly in the sky, making glitter out of the snow falling around me.  I looked down the street into the dark night and saw a warm light shining from a front porch, illuminating the steps and the holly bushes nearby.

I felt warm inside because it was my house. The light was meant for me. My mother always made sure the light was on, leading me home.

How blessed I am, I thought, to belong.  I walked home with a new understanding that home was sacred.

I’ve thought a lot about that over the years, the meaning of home for each person and, especially, for children. I’m thinking about it more now that, for many of us, home is the only place we are supposed to be.

In our homes we are in the world, yet apart from the world. If we love our families, our homes are sanctuaries where we come to be ourselves, to step away from the world and still be loved for who we are.

We build this sacred space by being co-creators with God, by bringing life to our families through love and letting that love spill out into the lives of others.  We establish traditions and create rituals that reinforce faith and family. Simple things, like taking off our shoes at the door, even when we are not in the middle of a pandemic, show respect for our home and the people in it, including ourselves, before we even enter the rooms.

By sharing meals and chores, prayers and conversations we establish bonds that are difficult to break, unless we forget to love.  And in the building of this little community we are following Jesus’ command to “love one another as I have loved you.”

Our homes, as our efforts to love, may not be perfect, but that doesn’t diminish the power of home in the life of a family, even if we are now only a family of one.

While we are confined to our sacred place, let us all pray for those who have no experience of belonging and no physical place to call home, those who are displaced, those are not loved or those who are homeless due to violence of any kind or poverty.

St. Teresa of Calcutta teaches us, “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”