The Beauty of Real

A geranium blooms in a pot on a windowsill. The window looks out from a log home, a place waiting to shelter me for one last time. Fronted by a field of wheat and shaded along the driveway by Illinois trees, the property teems with life beyond human.

Every flower, herb, fruit, and vegetable that thrives in cold country has been nourished here. Bird auditions happen daily in a theater of trees before a front porch audience. Sunset shows are sold out in peak season.

The natural world outside the log home has a keeper. She rules the realm with tender care, but in two weeks she’ll vacate her throne and move over a thousand miles away to live with me. Ready or not, her gardens and wildlife will have to fend for themselves.

Two of her greatest loves, her husband and her chickens, will not make the journey.

The hens are easy to dispense. A nearby farm woman will take them.

The solution regarding her husband is not so simple. Three years ago on a sun-snowy day, I helped my mother scatter a part of him on a bed of pine needles under the spruce trees.

The rest of him lies inside the log home. Scenic windows fog from his breath. Every grain in the wood becomes his veins. When I open a cabinet or touch a surface, I feel his retired college teacher hands. Even though I know he’s in heaven, my father’s texture resides in this castle he built.

Vacating the place my parents call home is turning out to be harder than I’d ever imagined. This fact surprises me.


Because I’m gifted with imagination.

Perhaps I’ve been so busy trying to write beautiful stories that I’ve forgotten to look up from the keyboard and appreciate everyday beauty unfolding around me.

Have I mismanaged the “beauty of real?”

I wonder about this when I think of my mother parceling away all her furnishings and household goods. My grief and gratitude comes in spurts. She is the last of my family of origin to leave Illinois, the land of Lincoln, but she does this voluntarily.

What if she didn’t? What if my mother was forced from her home?

What about immigrants, refugees, and homelessness? Is her life passage a bit of what it’s like to know you’ll never again look through a particular window on a world that you love?

Thoughts haunt me and a voice whispers, “Pay attention to this moment! You sit in the luxury of quietly spinning fictional dreams while other people on this earth are being aborted from their homes.”

It’s an old lesson turned new again. Companion to the trees and grass, our log home whispers, “Don’t take this for granted!”

Soon all the trappings of the home will be stripped away. Only the window views will be left for decoration. Then, after many years and other homeowners, the effects of time and decay will make even the windows and walls disappear.

It happens… just … like … that.

It’s one thing to experience the decay over time on home structures affected by the laws of nature, but it’s another thing entirely so watch the unnatural disappearance of the “beauty of real” in a country’s people.

Can United States citizens imagine being forced to flee anywhere but home so that their family can live without persecution?

You don’t really have to imagine this. It’s already begun. Some of our country’s own men and women are being horribly persecuted because of their race, color, gender, or religion.

Even worse, countless places across the globe echo these atrocities.

To those of us living on the upside of security and peace, a huge caution flag waves.

Don’t blink.

Don’t become callus.

How can this problem of helping ALL people to have access to a place to live peaceably be addressed?

What if EACH of us accepted the responsibility to change the inhospitality or ill treatment of others in our own square mile?

What if world leaders and politicians of credibility would take proper notice of the incidences that carry warning all around them? What if they stayed the good course and avoided ignorance and indifference as an option? What if they exerted every reasonable effort and garnered every talent to address the problems of prejudice, immigration, and refugee impacts.

How would these dilemmas that affect all of us be changed for the good?

THERE IS A WAY to be both wise and welcoming to people who need a haven. It’s a lie to say otherwise.

We need to become dignified and put away our childish prejudices. Homelessness should not automatically be equated with living lawlessly. We need to understand that some of the same refugees that seek our help were first victims of a terrorist regime.

By God’s grace, many of us are still blessed with the “beauty of real,” that beloved setting and those beloved people connected to us all.

But if we are honest, we know that the “beauty of real” won’t stay the same or last forever.

Many people do not have it even now!

Although I don’t have an answer for WHERE everyone should be allowed to make a home, I do know these three things.

  1. The WORTH of a true home is like true north on a compass.
  2. The motivation to have a true home compels all of us.
  3. The beauty of what is real inside a good home will always triumph over the ugliness of life.

God grant us steadfastness to keep turning toward home, the “beauty of real.”


Here is some additional reading.

The Bible teaches this story about compassion- showing the “beauty of real” when we care for others who live in desperate situations.

Luke 10: 25- 36

And a lawyer stood up and put Jesus to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” And the lawyer answered, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly; DO THIS AND YOU WILL LIVE.”

But wishing to justify himself, the lawyer said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

(Here, Jesus replies with a story….)

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

Likewise, a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him.

On the next day the Samaritan took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’

Jesus then asked the lawyer this question. “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?”

And the lawyer said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”

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