Home is an interesting word that has so many different connotations, and so much meaning, or lack of meaning depending on the person. Alice Merton has a song called No Roots that makes me think she and I might be kindred spirits. Her chorus that she repeats several times, “I’ve got no roots, but my home was never on the ground” resonates deeply with where I have landed in the whole pondering of home in a hopeful way. I am not sure if Alice is in that space, or not, but I am growing in that space of remembering that my home was never on the ground. The authors of Hebrews and 1 Peter both remind us that this world is not our home. The Message Paraphrase states it well:
“Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.” (1 Peter 2:11-12)
I have not always had this growing peace of setting my heart and mind above and feeling settled wherever I am. Growing up I lived in a home that looked very similar to all my friends. There were many moments of fun and blessing. There were the traditional dysfunctions that come with being raised in a home of fallen humans but my home had an invisible guest that in those days was not labeled or known about. We had mental illness in our home. Any day this misunderstood, undiagnosed, unmedicated guest could make an appearance and disrupt life. This was still my home. We all learned how to read the signs, and play our role in making it work. This unsettledness though made me count the days until I was out of my home. I did not think I would ever long for it.
A year after I was married my parents divorced, my growing up home was sold so my grandma’s house became home. It was during this time I started forming what makes home. For me besides all the memories of the place and the love that I received from my grandma, it had to do with being known. It was a place that I was most me and most known during that season. When my grandma died, that sense of going home was gone. There was definite grief in that, but I also had a husband and two kids of my own that needed me to be intentional with creating home. Due to our life situation I was learning how to create home without relying on the actual structure of a place. We moved four times during my kids growing up years.
We have practiced home as a connection to people and traditions, most specifically our nuclear family, but also the church families we have had the privilege to be part of. Because of this we are able to connect quickly with people and places and enjoy the gifts, even as we grieve the loss of moving, but there is still a desire for roots, for a tangible physical place that will always be there to go home to for me, or now specifically for my kids. I see people with a family homestead and there is a sort of ache for that.
As I have grieved and wrestled with all this over the years, I am reminded that this longing is actually God given, and we are to be longing for our true home, the one that is part of the bigger story. C.S. Lewis in the The Last Battle reminds in his gifted way, “All their life in this world and all their adventures had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.” I am reminded how Jesus left His home and walked among us with no place to lay his head. He came to make the way home possible, and to invite us in following Him there. He has shown us who we really are, our truest selves that have a truer home than even the best home on earth has for us.
To be really known is not to go to a physical home but to set my heart and mind above and abide with Christ. In this process of grief and longing, God has given me two gifts that grow with each move, the gift of being able to make myself at home wherever I find myself, but also the gift of longing for my true home as I press on for the home the Christ has gone on to prepare for me.