The following post originally appeared on Velvet Ashes during the time Dad was in the hospital and my focus was with him and our family. Of potential interest to you, I wrote this piece last fall and we didn’t need it at VA until January. I wonder how my sense of home will be impacted by recent events :) … too soon to tell!
The famous shot in American history heard round the world actually wasn’t. Heard round the world, that is. Let’s get all nitpicky, shall we, as it was probably heard by a few.
But a common question heard by cross cultural workers the world over, now we’re talking about ALL. AROUND. THE. WORLD.
How long will you be home?
When do you go home?
Do you consider Asia your home?
Where is your home?
By family, by friends, by locals, by random strangers, by our kids, by our teammates, by our own hearts. In every nook and cranny of this globe echoes a variation involving the idea of home.
Can I get a witness?
What is up with the obsession with home? Didn’t Jim Reeves sing “This world is not my home I’m just a passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.” (FYI –this little ditty can be your ring tone. However, keep reading.)
Not to creep you out, but the next verse is about joining his mom in glory. His mom. Not his creator or savior or redeemer. And how he can’t feel at home in this world anymore because his mom is in Gloryland. (I’m sorry to ruin the song for you and no wonder I was familiar with just the first verse.)
Now part of me gets that our final hope is not here on earth and that heaven is our ultimate home. But, I don’t think we’re supposed to mark our time on earth like we are prisoners counting off the days on a long sentence. We are not here by accident or to do penance and this sense of home runs so very deeply.
C.S. Lewis wrote in Pilgrim’s Regress “Be sure it is not for nothing that the Landlord has knit our hearts so closely to time and place – to one friend rather than another and one shire more that all the land.”
And isn’t that what makes a place or person home? Knitting (leave it to an old bachelor to bring sewing into the discussion!). Being knit to family, to friends, to this house or room or city or climate or type of cooking.
I hadn’t realized how much my sense of home was tied to locations until I wrote about leaving Lawrence, Kansas and how sad I was. A friend commented that he’d moved so much during his life that “home” isn’t rooted in places for him, instead it’s in people. My first response was “that’s ridiculous, home isn’t housed in people, it’s housed in places.” But since I’m polite and all, of I just said, what a lovely idea.
In reflection, I see how experience impacts our sense of home. At age three we moved into “my permanent address” – you know, the one where all my mail goes when I live overseas. The one I gave in kindergarten when we were pulled out of class one-by-one to check how high we could count, did we know our colors, what was our phone number and address.
I could drift far and wide in the world because that house anchored me.
And my family is small. Growing up, I had bajillions of great-aunts and uncles. Many of whom didn’t have children, so my childhood was filled with these colorful characters who kept dying on me. By the end of college I had three grandparents left, one great aunt, one aunt and no first cousins. If home is rooted in people, well, I was on a sinking ship.
Throw into the mix that I have spent the majority of adulthood in Asia … in two different apartments (once again, see how strongly place is reinforced in my story?). Two homes in nearly twenty years.
Back to the questions asked above. In answer, this has become the truest response I have to offer: I am always home and I am never home.
When I am in Asia, am I home? Yes, oh yes. Parts of me make sense in Asia in ways that are just odd in the U.S. When I’m in the U.S. am I home? Yes, oh yes.
As C.S. Lewis said, it is not for nothing that we are knit to places and people.
This is where I’ve landed after wrestling with, thinking about, loving and at times hating, that we are called to live in (at least) two cultures – it’s not to make us feel fractured (though it can have that affect) or play with us – instead, it is to broaden us, deepen us, and refine us as image bearers when it comes to the idea of home.
Home sweet home. Part of the cost and the blessing of our lives is that wherever we are, we are home and at the same time missing a part of ourselves.
Over to you – what has helped influence your sense of home? How do you answer the question about home?