A welcoming home is a place of refuge, a place where people worn down by the noise and turmoil and hostility of the outside world can find a safe resting place. A welcoming home is a place that you and others enjoy coming home to.
If you live in a house with small children you may already be shaking your head. "What do you mean, 'noise and turmoil of the outside world?' I have to leave home to get away from noise and turmoil!"
But even in the rough and tumble of family living, home can be a safe haven and even a place of quiet (at least some of the time). And especially if noise and activity crowd your life making the extra effort to create a sense of refuge in the midst of it can pay off wonderful dividends.
Besides, a refuge is not a hole where you disappear to eat and sleep and then emerge to go about the business of life. A welcoming home is where real life happens. It's where personalities are nurtured, where growth is stimulated, where people feel free not only to be themselves but to develop their best selves. That caring, nurturing quality - not the absence of noise or strife - is what makes a home a refuge.
Emilie's words have guided my vision of home for 30 years and helped me to understand that this refuge could be created in a cinder block, multi-family, government unit just as well as in a Georgian farmhouse. It was more about your purpose for your house than the house itself - how it was used, why you were there, and how you emerged from it, for better or worse.
Regardless of where you spend your days, we all go "home" eventually. It is worth the effort to consider what steps we can take to make it a place we long to return to, a true refueling station, a place from which we can launch our best and strongest selves, and a place where we can return to and integrate all those fascinating experiences we have other places.
* photograph from a welcoming old home turned inn where we stayed last month