Wandering taught me to desire rootedness. In the wilderness, I began to long for a place where my heart and body could settle, free of striving, free of restlessness. A place where my feet could touch ground. A place where I could grow. Like a tree.
— Roots and Sky
There is a piece of family land that we have been visiting for over a decade, a place that has become a sanctuary of sorts. It is here that my husband has cleared dozens of trails through the stubborn underbrush, where he has memorized each acre, cove and bluff. It is the first place I know to look when he is frustrated or overwhelmed.
In the summer, you can find us steadying sticks and marshmallows over the embers of an afternoon spent there, muddying our church shoes in the creek, laying in the tall grass as pirated fireworks burn across the whole black sky on a hot July night.
We even escape there for a date night from time to time — trading the waiting and parking and noise for the essentials: a hand to hold, a conversation uninterrupted, a crispy crusted pizza half eaten on the blanket under us.
On an ordinary weekend this past fall after scouting the exact spot to witness both the rise and the set of the midwest sun, our middle asked if maybe we could stop calling it the land and start calling it home instead.
I think it’s about time we said yes, don’t you?
Growing up I lived a dozen houses in a half of dozen states. I didn’t have a school or a friend or a familiar place that steadied or marked my childhood with lush nostalgia in the way that many have.
Rather, my shy self had to stretch clenched social muscles and ride bike with new navy base neighbors, dress barbies with different co-op friends, whisper the names of crushes to girls in the deep end of a new pool, escaping under the water immediately after sharing my secret.
I didn’t need those other roots anyway, I had the best and luckiest roots of all: the steadying and indestructible love of two patient and present parents, five wild brothers and sisters, and a faith that ran strong and centered through our days and the demands of military transitions, adoption, home school.
I am wildly grateful for the way I was raised, for the things I learned from the unconventional way I grew. But I am also thrilled for this new, old way: of tradition, of nostalgia, of staying and staying and staying, of roots tangling our family in this place, for hopefully as long as we live.
In the storms of life, of childhood, of growing up together: this, a shelter. A landing.
As we work towards building a home that will honor our family and our priorities (togetherness, simplicity, growth), we will be selling our current home and installing septic, well, and a driveway.
And then, we will be living on the land in 180 square feet of aluminum through the long spring, summer and fall days.
I am thrilled at the possibility of this small and magical life and yet there are some nights I wake up with a sharp breath:
Have we gone mad?
Will it really be as wonderful as I imagine?
While I know it will not be without struggle or stretch, I am imagining that the hardships will be ones that ultimately meld us closer together since proximity will be our only choice.
Simplicity has been etching itself into our family DNA for a while now. The past years have been less, less, less.
Less stuff, less commitments, less shame, less consumption, less running from place to place. I cannot tell you the gift that margin and minimalism has given to us. Fewer clothes to fold, fewer possessions to manage, fewer commitments to control us.
It has freed up space in our minds, our hearts and our account to focus on what our family stands for, what our priorities are, who we want to be — who we already are.
I don’t think this next step would have been possible without the excavation that simplicity has forced on our family. We are ready, our kids are ready. God, let these roots grow rampant please.
Oh, and welcome home, kiddos.