Once upon a time a very adventurous couple settled down to have a family. They bought a nice large house in Brighton and had two girls, Roberta and Claudia. When the girls were 18 the couple decided that they had done a good job raising a family and that they would like to retire from work and family life to spend time exploring the world. They split the house into two flats, giving one to Bobby (That’s what everyone called Roberta) and one to Claudia. They then kissed the girls, said goodbye to their home, and headed off to the Amazonian rain forest.
Immediately Bobby got to work on her flat. She got rid of all the old furniture, replaced the carpets, and did a thoroughly modern makeover. Almost as soon as she was finished she went to college, renting out the spare rooms in the flat to other students. There were parties almost every night. Then when she got her degree she went on to do a PhD in London, all the while renting the Brighton flat out to students to help make ends meet.
After completing her PhD she came home to teach at the university in Brighton. She got rid of all the old student wrecked furniture in the flat, replaced the carpets, and did another modern makeover.
After a few years she met a cool guy, fell in love, and settled down. Very soon the flat became filled with the sounds of family life; music, dogs, and young children, and then as the kids grew older more noise filled the house as they learned the drums and trumpet respectively. The flat was lovely, but always chaotic – filled with life.
Claudia was different. In her heart she believed that her parents would one day come home, and when they did they would want to move back into the home that they had left. And so she made sure that it remained exactly as they’d left it. She polished the wood, occasionally cleaned the curtains and furniture, took care of a little DIY, but otherwise left it exactly as it was.
No visitors, who would want the mess? The occasional boyfriend, but inevitably there would come a point when they would want to move in, or for her to move out, and it ended.
She hated the noisy students in the adjacent flat, she hated her sisters boyfriends, and then her arti farti husband too. The kids were OK, but she hated the noise, the chaos, and the changes Bobby had made to mummy and daddy’s house; it was unrecognisable. She wanted to leave but couldn’t, because when mummy and daddy came home they’d want to see their house taken care of. They would want to see how much Claudia appreciated the gift they’d given her.
And so she waited, and as the empty years went by she began to resent mummy and daddy. Where were they, and why didn’t they come back? The older the curtains, carpets, and furniture became, the more difficult it was to keep it the way it’d been left.
After many, many, years the girls got a letter. Mummy and daddy were coming for a visit! They wanted to hear all the stories and meet the family. They wanted to meet their grandchildren.
Despite Claudia’s forceful invitation to stay in the family home mummy and daddy stayed at the Queens hotel. They got a suite so that all their friends and the family could visit whenever they liked, and dad could swim in the pool every morning. It was wonderful! They laughed, they cried, and although it was only two weeks they crammed the time full with all of the people they loved.
Only once did they visit the old home that they’d converted to flats and given to the girls. They loved what Bobby had done, the home she’d made. It was chaos, but homely chaos.
They were surprised that Claudia hadn’t made any changes to her flat at all – it was exactly as they’d left it. But then, they thought, she’d probably just been too busy.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. Matthew 16:24-25