The Homefront Series, Part I.

Shelter. It's right up there with food and water as one of our basic human needs. If we're lucky we grew up in a shelter that not only served as a barrier from rain and cold, but also provided a sense of home in a a way walls and roofs alone cannot do. Home is perhaps the most comforting notion we as people have. A place to retreat and a place to gather. 

Just think of everything 'home' implies: family, love, warmth, safety, protection, solace from work, respite from business, suspension from the constant motion of life. My sister once made a comment about how she particularly loved riding her bike home from school on the wintry evenings in St. Louis, seeing the houses all lit up with presumably happy families milling about inside. Ever since that comment I have made a habit of going for evening walks when the days get colder and the sun sets earlier. Muffled conversations drifting from kitchens, the occasional silhouette of a family around a dinner table, and the soft yellow glow of lamplit windows stir in me that distinctly beautiful soul ache - you know, the one nostalgia tends to bestow upon those who decide to go for walks through quaint neighborhoods at dusk.

Of course this is not the case for everyone. Most of us human beings have at least one story of a time in which going home felt like stepping into the wringer of fear, doubt, insecurity, anger, or grief. For many, the idea of home has yet to be realized in any tangible way. 

For others, what was once home - a country, a village, a house, a sense of belonging, a place to worship, work, raise children, and share dinner with neighbors - has been overtaken by violence, hostility, or persecution, forcing them to flee, leaving them refugees. Yet regardless of what our relationship to home currently is, we all long for a good one.

We long for a new home.

A cozy home. 

A safe home. 

A welcoming home.

A walled home.

A second home.

A home we used to have.

A home with someone we love.

A quiet home.

A peaceful home.

A clean home.

A beautiful home.

More time at home.   

I could go on.

I started painting tiny houses a few years ago when these ideas were sitting heavy in my mind. The urge to revisit this subject resurfaced a few months ago when I moved to North Carolina. Here in Brevard you can drive a quarter mile outside town and every hundred yards spot a tiny little home or barn tucked into the mountains, nestled into the bend of a stream, or situated at the base of a national forest. There is something funny about a small, unassuming home front resting calmly in front of a wild towering mountainside. It's like those shows about unlikely animal friends, where a bunny is curled up next to a tiger as though it were the safest, most comfortable place on Earth.

That perfect contrast reminds us how wonderfully small we are in the context of a great and wild world. It reminds us there is a strength and comfort in quietness, that we have permission to make our home in the midst of the grandeur, and we have the option to help others make the same, or at the very least invite them into ours.  

(The Homefront Series will be for sale starting November 22)