Home, Sweet Home

Fern_Cottage

“How often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.”
― William Faulkner

My family tells me that I don’t travel well. For me the best part of any trip is coming home. I think I’ve gotten worse as I’ve aged. I used to be a happy camper. Something must have happened to me along the way.

Historically, America has valued the home and made great efforts to be sure that more of her citizens were homeowners. Owning a home has tremendous economic, political and social benefits for everyone (even those who don’t). The higher the rate of home ownership, the better it is for our society. Currently, home ownership in America is at an 18 year low. Our economic misfortunes are still defeating us, especially at home.

Home is a physical location where we hang our hat and rest our head. But it is more than that. It is a physical place that serves as ground zero for the formation of our most basic human relationships. It is the physical environment in which we construct the most intimate and essential experiences of our lives. Home is a refuge where we escape and find solace from the chaos and corruption that is outside.

Recently we had a water leak in our home. The damage caused us to have to undertake major repairs. Two things happened that reminded me how important home is and all the ways that I take it for granted. You’ve probably had similar experiences. Continue reading

Aeneas: Roman Portrait of a Father

08.aeneasTo a Roman man, the exemplum of fatherhood was Aeneas.  One image in particular summed up the expectation and burden Roman men felt.  The image of Aeneas fleeing the burning city of Troy on his was to Italy gets repeated throughout the ancient world in sculpture, painting and coins.  Every instance contains the same 3 elements.

  1. Aeneas is carrying Anchises, his aged and crippled father, on his shoulders.
  2. Aeneas is carrying the household gods.
  3. Aeneas is leading his son Ascanius by the hand.

(Note:  In order to make sure Aeneas has enough hands, sometimes Anchises is shown either holding the household gods himself or clinging to Aeneas’ back piggy-back style.)

Though the story of Aeneas contains things easy to find fault with (ie. where is Aeneas’ wife…answer: he lost her on the way out of Troy…Sorry, not enough hands for her to hold).  This image does offer a window into how manhood and fatherhood were conceived of in Ancient Rome….and perhaps a little wisdom for a world losing its way.

Continue reading