I smiled when I looked back over my Facebook posts. The word HOME was always enclosed with quotes.
Maybe that’s because home is an elusive concept to me. It’s always changing. It’s where I am and it’s also where I’m not. It’s where I’ve been and it’s alive in glimpses of the place that I am heading toward.
When people ask me where I’m from I want to give answers like, planet earth or the imagination of God. But those answers generally frustrate so I try to explain that I claim both California and Florida and pieces of a hundred other places in between.
I’ve mentioned it before, but I love the Hungarian way of referring to home. There is the word ITTHON that I use when I want to describe the place where I am physically present as home. And there is the word OTTHON that I use to refer to a place where I am not physically present as home. Home Here and Home There.
I have many homes.
I was just in Indonesia. I’d never been there before, but something about the sticky humidity, the riot of tropical flowers and the geckos crawling on the walls whispered “home” to me. If I closed my eyes and just listened and inhaled the wet warm air the scent of home carried me to summers in Florida, laughter at Disney World and sweat rolling off my neck as I walked the boardwalks in Lettuce Lake Park.
And then I returned to Wales, to the place where for the last four months I have rented a piece of earth. When I walked through my front door I found myself both oriented and disoriented all at the same time. Here is another piece of home, but it’s not the full embodiment of the word, not yet.
My true home is a place I’ve never been before, a Kingdom that both now and not entirely yet. I’ve gotten glimpses in dreams and prayers, in laughter and sunshine and smiles. A thousand tall trees and majestic mountains and rolling waves have reflected its glory. I’ve inhaled its scent and tasted crumbs of the feast that awaits. And every place that I’ve ever called home is just a shadow, a foretaste.
Maybe that’s why I find myself always writing “home” in quotes. It’s not a fixed place. The place that was home to me yesterday may not be home to me tomorrow. Home isn’t a place I can pin down. It’s a memory. It’s an orientation of my heart. It’s a million gifts on a sojourn of grace, a piece of this and a piece of that woven into a tapestry of love. It’s the people that I’ve walked alongside and the songs that I have sung and the miracles I have seen. It’s a destination that I’m moving toward.
I love the quote below by N.D. Wilson. It resonates. Home is a place that I wear, a place that I grow into, a place that I leave behind and a place that is waiting up ahead.
“People wear places like they wear shoes. A place shifts around you, and you shift inside it, growing blisters and then calluses, becoming used to each other. But shoelaces tatter. Soles grow thin. Every day spent in a place frays the carpets, compresses the dirt, scuffs the sidewalks, or kills the grass just a bit more. Floors creak, stairs bounce, trees, moss, weeds, and mildew grow, walls sag, pipes chatter and finally leak. Every breath changes the paint in a room, or the growth of green things beside you; every switch of the lights sends lighting rivers racing through secret grooves in hidden copper wires.
No place is ever the same tomorrow.
Take off your shoes and leave them in the tall grass for a year. Return and slip them on if you can. Disturb the ants and centipedes and beetles that now live inside. Wiggle your toes. You have changed.
No place is yours forever.”