Home: Place for physical, spiritual renewal

Out of the dreariness

Into the cheeriness

Come we in weariness


These words, penned by an unknown writer, sum up "coming home" for many of us. Home - a haven, a refuge, a bit of heaven on earth - is the place we long to be. Home can be a place where we are renewed both physically and spiritually. Winston Churchill expressed it well when he said, "We shape our houses, then our houses shape us."

The Lord explains in D&C 29:35 that all things are spiritual unto Him. Thus we're assured that even the mundane, routine care and cleaning of a house has eternal significance.

President Harold B. Lee once stated: "A home should be a place where we can progress toward perfection." In other words, a home should be a place where we can grow the best. A home should be to people as a greenhouse is to plants - an environment conducive to their optimum growth and development. Just as plants flourish because of the sunshine reflected in the glass windows of the greenhouse, people thrive in a warm, happy atmosphere. Cleanliness, neatness and order do not guarantee happiness, but happiness is almost impossible amidst dirt, disorder and confusion.

The Spirit of the Lord will not dwell in an unclean tabernacle. Therefore, we invite the Spirit into our homes when our homes are in order both temporally and spiritually.

Our missionaries tell us they are much more likely to feel the Spirit in their apartments when things are clean and neat. Such an environment brings out the best in them, whereas a dirty, messy apartment is demoralizing and immobilizing and causes contention. Missionaries further say when they move into a clean, orderly apartment they feel comfortable and at peace and are motivated to do well. It's pleasant living there and easy to feel the Spirit as they pray, study and plan.

This Spirit goes with them as they depart for their proselyting area and is still with them as they return home. In the meantime, should anyone look into the apartment, it would not be difficult to believe that representatives of Jesus Christ live there.

I asked our missionaries, as they attended a recent round of zone conferences throughout The Netherlands, if anyone knew of an instance where a person, as he or she became converted and joined the Church, began keeping a cleaner, neater house. I was impressed, not because some of them knew examples, but rather because so many of them cited examples. Almost every missionary had stories to tell about the marked difference - one they could see and feel - in homes after a person's baptism. As these people repented and cleaned themselves, they were motivated to clean their houses also, and thus the Spirit blessed their lives and their homes.

Of course, these same concepts and principles and potential blessings apply to each of us, whether or not we are full-time missionaries or recent converts.

A young bride and groom, while being married in the temple, sealed for time and all eternity, were told by the temple president who was officiating: "Keep your house clean and neat and beautiful. You need to learn to do it here so that you can do it hereafter." Even though we aren't likely to reach perfection in this life, it is important for us to be in the correct pattern so that good habits and practices can bless us forever. How can we expect to govern worlds someday if we cannot manage our houses now?

We have been given stewardship over this earth in general and over our own "little corner" of it, so to speak, specifically. Thus, as good stewards we are charged with the responsibility of caring for and beautifying our surroundings. And as we do so and as we someday will give an accounting, I hope the Lord will be able to say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." (Matt. 25:21.)

My model for a clean, orderly home, one where the Spirit can prevail, is the temple. The Lord Himself has set the standard for us in D&C 88:119:

"Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God."

And then into the cheeriness we come home.

Sister Daryl V. Hoole is serving with her husband, Pres. Hendricus J.M. Hoole Jr., who is presiding over the Netherlands Amsterdam Mission.

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