There is an old hymn that says “I’ve got a mansion, right over the hillside.” The lyric is based on Jesus’ saying, “I go to prepare a place for you.”

Recently, I visited the house in which I grew up. My father and mother moved many years ago but kept our family home as a rental. I haven’t been inside in years. Stored in a back shed were Christmas decorations. We went back to retrieve the Christmas tree lights, the manger scene for the front lawn and other decorations.

As I made my way past the house toward the back shed, I remembered Dad’s garden and the wood fence he’d designed and built in the front of the house. Mother’s clothesline was still in the same place, but the old posts have been replaced with sturdier metal poles. The lilac bush by the cellar door was long gone and the morning glories no longer vined up in the back of the house.

Everything was much smaller than I remembered. Old cars and a sad looking dog had taken up residence in our back yard. Trees and shrubs were no longer trimmed and orderly. The now smaller muddy backyard was just another place.

We lived differently than today’s renters. A grassy lawn mattered to us. It was our home. It housed our family with our resolve, relationships and our way of being. We’ve all moved on.

I’m thankful for what we had and shared back then – for our kind of family and the relationships that defined us, church included. We’re still family, all grown up – with those same values and clear responsibilities that were forged there. We’re still what we were then, even though we’re not there.

It turns out that home is really a place formed in the heart a long time ago. I’ve got a mansion right here.