Right at Home: A devotional

Some people have green thumbs, and some people don’t. My Jewish mother-in-law, of blessed memory, had a way with African violets. She also knew how to do donkey tail plants with elegant long tails, and she was pretty good at unique kinds of spiderworts. The year after she died, her white African violet blossomed for three weeks in my dining room.

Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens… – Jeremiah 29:5 (KJV)

She famously blessed me out one Good Friday/Passover for having tarried too long at the Washington Cathedral’s Good Friday and then visited Washington’s famous cherry blossoms for too long.

I arrived for the Passover meal right at dusk. With her hands on hips as powerful as mine are now, she met me at the door.

“Where have you been?”

“I’ve been worshipping and enjoying the cherry blossoms.”

“Don’t you know how late you are?”

“No, I don’t. I was sure Passover began at sunset.”

“In our house, Passover begins with cocktails.”

Inez had a way of knowing what was right for her house. She had built a house, planted a garden and was dwelling in it. She belonged to what she did and the way she did it where she did it. She was at home in her universe.

I grow a pretty good African violet myself. And I have spiderworts about to take over my entire house. But I rarely feel at home the way she did.

I just know things change, and the only thing I know for sure is that they change. There is no one right time for Passover or for lingering in a cherry blossom daze.


Help us, O God, to be at home in different times and places. Teach us how to be early and how to be late and sometimes, to be right on time. Amen


Donna Schaper works nationally for Bricks and Mortals, a NYC-based organization that provides sustainable solutions for sacred sites. Her newest book is Remove the Pews: Spiritual Possibilities for Sacred Spaces, from The Pilgrim Press.