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! 

anchored

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.

Home town.

Home cooking.

Home.

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?

Photo credit  Irene2005 via Flickr

Categories: Uncategorized

Amy

Share

Leave A Comment

  1. Sarah Skinner February 21, 2014 at 5:56 am - Reply

    Home is a confusing topic for me…I have moved a lot. When I am visiting my parents it is home and not home. When I am with my husband…it is mostly always home, but sometimes missing my favorite aspects of extended family. Then again, sometimes I find myself completely at home with a group of women I barely know all learning, loving, and living in Christ. Sometimes, I miss the place of home…Oregon. And sometimes I miss the people of home…Laura, Jani, Trina, Julie, Jessica, Mom, Dad, Job, Peter, John, Jesse, Andrea, Gracie, Andy, Mason, John John, Anthony, Bob, Sophia, Lilah, and so very many more. It is both a place, a people, a connection in Christ, a connection in community, a welcoming in, a being known and knowing. Home is so much…and in so many places. It’s trees and desert. I am often homesick, and often right at home…sometimes at the very same time.

    • Avatar photo
      Amy February 21, 2014 at 12:05 pm - Reply

      Sarah … your list of names makes me smile. I, I don’t think :), know them, but just seeing them and guessing what’s behind each name, resonates deeply with me! And YES, YES, YES to experiencing various states all at one time :). I so get that!

  2. LeAnne February 21, 2014 at 7:07 am - Reply

    I grew up in one house. It will always be home. I got tired of waiting on a man and bought a house by myself. I lived there for a year by myself, met and married Lee and then we lived there before moving to China. I loved that house. We currently have a renter, but that house feels like home. We’ve now established ourselves in Xi’an and left our apartment as is while returning to the States to have Caleb. It, too, feels like home. While in the States, we lived with my parents for three weeks then Lee’s parents for three weeks and back and forth. We still own the house but couldn’t afford to take back the mortgage while there. We had so many homes yet no home. Only people who live (or have lived) overseas can use the phrase “It’s about time to go home” while referring to both directions!

    • Avatar photo
      Amy February 21, 2014 at 12:06 pm - Reply

      I love hearing the stories of what home means :)!

  3. Mike February 21, 2014 at 8:11 am - Reply

    “All I know is I’m not home yet; this is not where I belong.” (“Where I Belong” by Building 429)

    One thing that I’ve learned about myself over the past year is that for years I have YEARNED to belong to a place. This is something that I’ve never experienced. Ever.

    But I’ve also come to realize, more and more, that I’ll never REALLY belong to any place here on earth. Thus the line from the song above.

    Oh, believe me, I’ve had enough opportunities! From the time I was born until I went to college (18 years), my family lived in 8 different houses in 6 different cities. Through college until Wendy and I got married (8 years), I lived in 11 different houses in 6 different cities in 2 different countries. Since we’ve been married (almost 30 years) we’ve lived in 17 different houses in 13 different cities in 3 different countries.

    One result of living in so many different places is that, as they begin to pile up, each one feels less and less as if it’s really, truly home. But it doesn’t stop me from still having that yearning to belong somewhere.

    Even now, when we live for most of the year in China, this precious, crazy, frustrating, amazing country will NEVER feel like home, mainly because the people here will ALWAYS think of us as foreigners. At the same time, when we return to the U.S. every summer, we always stay with family (spread over three states with more than a thousand miles between them!) for the few short weeks that we’re there, so we’re not really “at home” then, either.

    So where’s our home? Read the first line of my post again! Yes, I’m looking forward to the day when I’ll be completely, utterly at home! But for now, I know I’ll still continue to struggle with the yearning for a place to belong to down here.

    P.S. “This World Is Not My Home” has been one of my favorite songs for as long as I can remember. You didn’t spoil it for me. :-)

    • Avatar photo
      Amy February 21, 2014 at 12:09 pm - Reply

      Two things :) … first, and this might surprise you (I DO like to keep yo one your toes!), I like the song, “This World IS Not My Home” (I’m not completely anti-music. Hehehe). And second, you’re the” friend ” whose comment on my Lawrence post got me thinking :). Thanks for pushing me towards growth and greater understanding of myself, humanity, and God! I really mean it Mike! Thanks :)

    • LeAnne February 24, 2014 at 6:03 am - Reply

      Oh wise, Mike. I could HEAR you reading your post. How we miss you around here!

  4. Callie February 21, 2014 at 1:20 pm - Reply

    I really enjoyed reading this from your perspective, since you have a connection to two different cultures – I have a friend living overseas, and I think this helps me understand her a little better. And I love that C.S. Lewis quote!

  5. Amy L. February 22, 2014 at 8:12 am - Reply

    While our home is truly in heaven, and affords us comfort in the here and now, it can be a struggle for me sometimes to not think of where my home is here on earth. While a place is good (I always felt like I was at home while living in China and when I returned to my apt. there from some travel, it was goooood), people are what make it for me. Like homes, people can come and go, but relationships can last, even into eternity. :) That was one thought I wanted to discuss with you the other day, but there was just so little time and so many things to cover! Until we’re all Home…

  6. connie gibson February 23, 2014 at 4:41 pm - Reply

    Thank you Amy for another brilliant and thought-provoking writing! My concept of home has changed over the years but looking back it’s really a combination of place and people. Different times in my life has brought different concepts and meanings of “home”. As I get closer to Heaven (having cancer coming and going) I realize that even when I get to my Eternal Home, it has to do with both people and place… thanks for getting me to think about it again though.

Related Posts