If you ever happen to visit my apartment, you will be greeted by a wooden sign immediately upon stepping inside. It depicts a well-dressed mole drinking coffee and reading a book, along with two welcoming words: Mole End.
My dad, God bless him, crafted this sign for me many years ago. Although he’s known round these parts for his superb drawings of monkeys, my old man is perfectly capable of drawing other small mammals!
The sign is made of driftwood from an Ecuadorian beach. (The sign fell from the wall a few weeks ago, scattering sand from its deepest crevices all over my floor. I was oddly touched to find my small-town Indiana apartment suddenly dusted with sand from my faraway homeland.) My old man sketched the picture on an ordinary piece of paper, glued it to the driftwood, aged it with cold tea, and applied a layer of finish.
When I moved into my apartment two and a half years ago, I immediately christened it Mole End and put up the sign shortly thereafter. Now, you may wonder why I chose this name for an apartment in a quiet, out-of-the-way corner of Indiana. You wouldn’t be the first!
Some time ago, I was honored to receive a visit from Thomas Mark Zuniga. This wise, wandering blogger had written for my blog. I had written for his, and also reviewed his debut book. It was quite a privilege finally to meet the man (and his splendid beard) in person.
Upon entering Mole End, Tom asked about the sign. It took me a moment to stammer out a reply: “Have you ever read The Wind in the Willows?”
For those who haven’t read this enchanting book, The Wind in the Willows is the tale of several animals in the old-timey English countryside. One of these creatures, Mole, reminds me strongly of myself: neat, anxious, insecure, quick to blame himself, and a devoted homebody. In a few other ways, I’m rather like a mole: I’m an introvert, keeping away from social events and enjoying my safe, cozy, solitary burrow.
Mole loves his subterranean home, Mole End, yet leaves it early on in search of fresh experiences. It’s only later in the book, as he chats with a Badger, that Mole remembers how much he enjoys life underground.
“Once well underground,” he said, “you know exactly where you are. Nothing can happen to you, and nothing can get at you. You’re entirely your own master, and you don’t have to consult anybody or mind what they say. Things go on all the same overheard, and you let ’em, and don’t bother about ’em. When you want to, up you go, and there the things are, waiting for you.”
That, dear reader, is why I call my apartment Mole End.
Mole later returns to Mole End in a chapter aptly titled “Dulce Domum,” Latin for sweet home. He is overwhelmed to the point of tears. Mole End is all the sweeter because Mole abandoned it for a while, like the man in the book by G.K. Chesterton who left his house and walked around the world simply for the joy of coming home again.
I love my home—not my Indiana apartment, specifically, but the place I feel secure, comfortable, and relaxed. My home isn’t permanent. There’s a reason the Bible refers to our bodies as a “tent” instead of a house. Quoth the Apostle Paul, “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven.”
We are all foreigners and strangers on earth. Some of us are searching for a better country—a heavenly one. My apartment in Indiana may be the closest thing to home I shall ever find on earth. I don’t know how long I’ll stay. In the future, I may have many homes… but I will only ever have one Mole End.
Of course, Mole End’s size, appearance, and layout may change occasionally. Its location may vary. Mole End may be found, at various times, in different cities, countries, and continents.
As long as I have the promise of a heavenly home—and the sign, of course—I’ll carry Mole End with me.