Moving house or relocating is said to be one of the three most stressful events in life, the other two being bereavement and divorce. Irrespective of circumstances, a move invariably involves some kind of separation. Even when the separation is necessary, such as the ending of a dysfunctional relationship, or simply leaving home for college or to work abroad, it inevitably involves a painful uprooting from the familiar and loved. Where the circumstances involve relationship breakdown or leaving an unhappy work situation, it can often mean leaving behind joy as well as pain. Moving always involves disorder and a certain amount of loss. Added to the emotional disorder, is the managed disorder of packing up and the often less managed disorder of unpacking at the other end, further exacerbated by items getting lost in transit.
With all this disorder comes a feeling of disorientation, even if the move was necessary and the new home just what was needed. Until now, we did not belong here. Perhaps someone else lived here very recently and there is still a sense of their presence about the place. So the new arrivals need to ‘claim’ it for themselves.
All of these emotions and the practical challenges which accompany them have a spiritual dimension. It helps to connect with that dimension on arriving in a new house or a new room in college by establishing a sacred space. This claims the house or the college room for Christ who in turn claims it for the new occupant. Henceforth, he will abide in the room or house and the new occupant will abide in it as they abide in him.
The sacred space can be very small – a corner of a desk, a window ledge or any nook or cranny which is not too far from the main living area. Christ needs to be at the heart of things. At the same time, it needs to be a place where a person can be alone with him in a reasonable degree of comfort – no cold draughts or phones. It can also be helpful to have something which can serve as a focus for contemplating Jesus in that particular spot at the same time every day for anything from 5 minutes to an hour.
Being able to focus on Jesus for a few minutes each day, as a person settles in to a new home or temporary accommodation, has a steadying effect on the whole business of restoring order out of the surrounding chaos. It also sets them up for a day full of possibilities and uncertainties, or for one in which that person will find themselves being tested in some way, or perhaps simply bored and lonely.
Keeping company with Christ in the moves of life prevents whatever emotions we are experiencing from getting out of proportion. Too much excitement can be as unhealthy as the disorientation which comes with disorder and chaos. Both can ultimately lead to depression. Keeping company with Jesus breathes peace into the turbulence of change.