Recently, the word “home” has become a significant part of my vocabulary but also a word I have had to rediscover the meaning of. After 10 years living in other countries for study and work, I decided it was time to come home. I had incredible experiences in the other places I lived, but I guess there came a point where what I wanted was the comfort of home. Dorothy says, “there’s no place like home”, right? Well, I think she may have needed to define that a bit before making such a bold, general statement.
What I feel even more certain of now, is that “home” changes. It may not always be defined as where your family members live. But, is it truly just “where your heart is”? What if your heart is in more than one place? What if those places are on separate continents? Do you have to designate only one place as “home”? Is it possible to make a place your home if it doesn’t fit these criteria?
So if our physical and emotional homes change, can our spiritual homes change too?
As we grow and discover more about ourselves, we discover new truths, new paths to journey, and new ways of being. If we’ve felt we found a spiritual home in one place, one congregation, or one aspect of nature, what happens when that changes? What happens when the people we grew up with in our community change, or we discover a new direction for our lives? What happens when that old tree where we experienced God so many times all of a sudden gets torn down or replanted? Was it where the tree was that we found a spiritual home, or the tree itself? Will we ever find that connection somewhere else?
I think it is hard to rely on anything outside of our selves to be considered home. There are too many uncontrollable variables to be dependent on anything else for permanent grounding and expecting eternal contentment and connection from one specific place, or one group of people, or one unchanging idea. We have to be open to the possibility that these “homes”, although they may be our foundations, are not necessarily going to be in the same place, look the same, or feel the same, forever.
I think this can also apply within our church communities. Foundations and traditions are great building blocks to set us off from, but if we are so attached and too comfortable in these foundational homes that we refuse to grow from them or explore new territories of possibilities, then we will never be able to find contentment anywhere else. One day these foundations could fall to pieces – then what? And who knows what else is out there that we could be missing?!
Perhaps something to strive for (although I firmly admit this is idealistic) is: to know our selves and our God as intimately as we can, and to be confident enough to take that personal and spiritual strength with us wherever we go. Having that core strength and contentment with our selves; while allowing ourselves to be guided as we change as individuals, communities of Christ, and as our relationship with God changes; will help us learn, grow, and better adapt to each new “home” (literal or spiritual) that we find. So there will in fact be “no place like home”, because we are able to be at home with everyone and everywhere we go.
“We shape our dwellings, and afterwards our dwellings shape us” – Sir Winston Churchill
Where is your home? Where is your spiritual home? How will you cope if your definition of “home” changes? Are you confident enough in yourself and your relationship with God to be able to find a home no matter where you are? If not, what can you do to work towards that?