“In this life, you’re the one place I call home,
In this life, you’re the feeling I belong…”
“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” –Robert Frost
“Home is having somewhere to go when the journey is over…” -Partial quote from a wall hanging
What or where is “home”? Here are a few definitions for “home” I found at dictionary.reference.com:
“home: the usual residence of a person, family or household; the place in which one’s domestic affections are centered; the dwelling place or retreat of an animal; the place or region where something is native or most common; any place of residence or refuge; a person’s native place or own country…”
Here are a few additional definitions of my own:
- Home is the warm, firm, mutual embrace of close friends [the idea of being both known and accepted]
- Home is turning into the driveway of Mt. Gilead (a camp in Sebastopol where I lived and worked my sophomore year of college) or pulling up to my grandparents house [the idea of familiarity]
- Home is where my suitcases have a home [the idea of permanence and rest]
- Home is the place where I feel most relaxed, at ease, able to “let my hair down,” where I am free to be me. I am safe at home. There is no fear of rejection or harm. Home is where I am both known and loved.
Longing For Home:
Back in January when I first arrived “home” to California, I had moved 12 times within the previous 12 months. I had been on lots of adventures, seen all kinds of beautiful places and met many wonderful people along the way. I am truly thankful for the opportunities I had to visit so many places and stay with dozens of amazing and very hospitable folks. I know I am a better person for the time I spent with each of the families who took me in.
While I may always love a good adventure, more than ever, this season of living as a vagabond and wanderer, a gypsy of sorts if you will, has cultivated in me a growing desire for a home of my own. I long to have a home of my own where I can put down roots… my hair… my luggage…
By late summer (2013), at the height of my many moves, I came to loath basic questions such as:
What is your address?
What country do you live in?
What is your phone number?
One particular day during this season, I found myself on the brink of tears as I was filling out a form that asked these simple questions and others like them. My internal response to the first question went something like this:
“My address?! Which one?! Should I put my permanent mailing address in California? Or my current physical address? Do I even know my current address? Or maybe my address of where I’ll be next month would be better? Do I have that one written down somewhere?…”
More than ever, what I want is a place to come home to when each adventure is over. A place where I can unpack my bags and put them away until it is time to prepare for the next outing or excursion. A place where I don’t need to constantly ask others where to find the things I need or for permission to enter the kitchen. A place where I can be the one to host and entertain other guests and where I will have my own keys to the front door. Please don’t misunderstand me! The many folks who have opened their homes to me over the last year and a half have been incredibly welcoming and stellar examples of what it means to be hospitable! But even in the most welcoming of places, where I felt most “at home” and truly a part of the family, there was still something separating me from everyone else: I was a guest. This wasn’t my permanent home. I was someone passing through for a time and my ever-present luggage was a constant reminder: I would be somewhere new in the not-too-distant future.
Where is home?
Is it a place? A feeling? A person or people who know and love us? It seems to me the concepts of rest, familiarity and acceptance are very much wrapped up in this idea of “home” but still I struggle to articulate their relationship to one another.
Going home… to a place I’ve never been:
When I came back to California in early January of this year (2014), I returned to the same family/friends I had been living with in the several months prior to my departure for Sicily last year. The funny thing is, during the summer of ’13, while I was away, they moved. Via Skype, I was able to get a tour of their new house but it made for a strange scenario in January when I was coming “home” to a house I had never actually stepped foot in.
Then again… perhaps this concept is not so strange after all? Is this not the case when it comes to every Christ-follower’s ultimate “home” which is in heaven? We have not actually been there yet it is our eternal resting place, our ultimate destination and the kingdom of our true citizenship. Heaven may not be familiar to us just yet, but at the same time, I have to wonder if it may feel familiar to us the moment we arrive.
Have you ever had such an experience before? Have you ever arrived to a place you’ve never been before but immediately felt right at home? What about the place (or the people) caused you to feel so welcome and at ease?
I believe the fundamental idea of “home,” whatever that may be, transcends every culture and country. No home here on earth is perfect but there is a perfect home I believe all of our hearts are longing for. It seems to me to be intrinsic to our nature as human beings. As C.S. Lewis said:
“If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
While in this life I may yet have a home of my own someday, it won’t last forever. Whether I die before I reach the age of 40 or live to be 100, this life is but a vapor. We will be here one day and be gone the next. I will enjoy and be grateful for the shelters and resting places God provides for me in this world but all the while I will wait in expectation for the day Jesus comes to take me home.
What are your thoughts on home? Where or what is home for you?
Check out: Hebrews 11:13-16; Philippians 3:20; John 14:1-3; Psalm 27:-6, 62:1 for more food-for-thought on the subject.