Passage of Green: The ‘dream’ of home ownership involves the heart

By Burnie Cook
Columnist

Some individuals believe, “home is where the heart is.” As of Aug. 3, my wife and I have made our “home” in Austin for one year. It has been a worthwhile experience; however, before the end of 2013, we will undertake a new transition. My wife and I and our dog will move from a single bedroom apartment to a three bedroom home that we are having built about 20 miles north, thus moving out of Austin to Leander. All this change is causing me much excitement and a little anxiety. Building a home has been and continues to be a stressful ordeal, but we’ll get through it. For as another old saying goes, “If God brings you to it; he’ll bring you through it.” 
Jeremiah 29:5 says, “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their fruits.” I cannot address the concern of having a garden at this time for I don’t know the size of the yard. Yet I think it is worth noting how eco-conscious one can be during such an endeavor, be it home building or home buying and remodeling. Home building certainly has given us more choices than originally expected. 
In the building process, we have been able to choose a home site (a lot), a floor plan as well as some of the building materials. These include details of the house façade (brick, stone, a mixture or other), kitchen cabinets (made of wood or another material), cabinet hardware (knobs, handles, etc.), appliances (energy-efficient or based on looks and/or functionality), countertops (laminate, granite, glass or other things), optional fireplace (wood burning or gas), any additional plumbing concerns in a laundry room and or in the owner’s suite and bathroom (what are the pipes made of; will they make effective efforts on water preservation and/or conservation) and flooring throughout (natural wood, bamboo, laminate, tile, carpet).
Home buying can be a trying ordeal, too. Touring houses, making offers and being rejected, all for the sake of finding one’s “dream house” seems to be just that, a dream.
For those of us on a budget, finding the perfect house in terms of location, size, eco-friendliness and affordability is nearly impossible. I would love to build a home with solar panels and made of environmentally conscious materials on a piece of land where we could grow a garden and let our dog run free, but my wife and I are not in such a financial position right now. However, this will not stop us from making our new house a home when we move in later this year. Just because it does not have every single element of our “dream home” does not mean it won’t be a happy home!
Whether we live in a newly built house, a remodeled home or an apartment, home is indeed where the heart is. We are called to care for and respect all that God has given us in this life –– from the environment that surrounds us to the loving hearts of our neighbors, friends and family.
Pope Benedict XVI said something similar at World Youth Day in Australia in 2008, “My dear friends, God’s creation is one and it is good. The concerns for nonviolence, sustainable development, justice and peace, and care for our environment are of vital importance for humanity. They cannot, however, be understood apart from a profound reflection on the innate dignity of every human life from conception to natural death: a dignity conferred by God himself and thus inviolable.”

Burnie Cook and his wife Maggie are parishioners of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Austin. He enjoys spending time with family and friends. Aside from the environment, his other passions include marketing communications, film, music and the arts. Look for “Passage of Green” on Facebook and Twitter.

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