Over the years I have repeatedly dreamt of three houses.
As a child I dreamt of an old mansion, which I would explore with an unidentified friend. We would find secret passageways and stairs that led up and down at the back of the house, which other people never found.
One of these sets of stairs brought me out onto a stage area, where I could watch what was happening on the stage from the curtain wings. But one of the most amazing features of this mansion and its secrets were the banisters on the stairs that we could slide down and appear from nowhere to the surprise of many others.
As I grew older, the same house now has a secret and beautiful suite of rooms—bedroom, dressing room, bathroom—that spread across the full width of the house on the upper floor. This area was richly appointed, with gold fittings and a sumptuous bed. It was a place of retreat for me; I could be hidden from my family. Funnily enough, I don’t recall this being a space to share with anyone else, not even my husband!
The second house, one I have dreamed of repeatedly and which is so real to me, although I realise that I have never seen it in real life, is a house in a semi-rural setting.
It is a rambling home for me and my family of boys. There were rooms that my husband and I renovated, and others that remained in their original state. Some rooms were small, and others huge.
The important rooms were the ones that took up the length of one side of the house. These rooms were long, and in different dreams were set out in dormitory style or as our main bedroom. But in all the variations of this dream house, these rooms were secret—not easily found—as they could only be discovered by going down a hall, away from the main part of the house. Again the main bedroom was a private retreat space, often with a chair, a fireplace, or billowing curtains.
The third house is in the suburbs I grew up in. The kitchen is in the centre of the house and lit by a window or skylight in the roof. The dining room is also sunlit, and on the same level as the kitchen. Off to the left of these two rooms is the sunken lounge. There are a set of stairs that run down to the lower floor, between the dining room and the lounge. The hiddenness here is in plain sight—the light streaming through the unseen skylight.
I have lived in many houses in my life and in the last three years have moved five times. Having a home of my own has always been important to me, and being able to establish a place as my home-in the environment of furnished accommodation with The Salvation Army-has been a challenge that comes more easily now.
When I was married, there were a number of years toward the end where home was not a safe place for me; it was a place of strife, the worse for being hidden strife. It was in this place that I discovered that my safe place is in God.
I know my life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3: 3) and that I’m able to dwell in the shelter of the Most High, and rest in the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91: 1).
Wherever I go, God is my home.