BBC Radio 4 Prayer for the Day, 11 February 2017
As we head into Valentine’s week, we will be surrounded by ideas of love and I’d like to begin with the love of home and family as equal to romantic love. C.S. Lewis writes about it as one of the four great loves; ‘Storge’, the nurturer. As enduring as the mountains.
If I get the rare chance to sit on a rocking chair, no matter where it is, I feel a sense of home. I almost hear my great-grandmother creaking back and forward, holding conversation with visitors crammed into the front room around the clipper gas fire. Wooden clock keeping a rhythm. Her generation loved those chairs. Her’s was simple. Wooden, not too big, but it was at the centre of everything. And I remember that look she gave me before she checked the scones; because that glance meant I had the unusual permission to sit on her rocking chair for a while.
All of us in truth were step-family or extended family in one way or another, even distant cousins or just taken in; ‘they’re like family,’ we would say. Even those who weren’t there, because they’d passed away or, like my great Aunt Margaret, in a bungalow up the road. Even they were somehow present. Like the love of a family had a mysterious fullness. A shape: a place to belong.
We don’t all find a sense of home in the first place we look, but this love is so strong and lingers so long that that even a sense of it, a visit, an experience can stay with us. And it’s found in many places. I’ve been lucky to have God-parents whose home has been my home. Or the first time I went into St Edwards Chapel in Westminster Abbey I felt I’d come home. There are old familiar mountains I return to, the daily office can surround me like family.
Gracious God, may we celebrate the generosity of family love as equal to other loves and give thanks for the gift of belonging. As enduring as the mountains. Amen