Friday, January 18, 2013

No Place Like Home (part 3)

Homelessness leads to hopelessness.

And that's what I was feeling not too long ago. Hopeless. Homeless. Whether I lived under a certain roof for three months or three years, it simply didn't feel like my home. Why not? What is it that makes a place "home"?

Home is where the heart is. Or so they say. For some, home is where the hurt is. But that's not the way it should be. Ideally, home is about . . .

. . . belonging.
Home is the place where I belong, and it is also the place where I have my belongings around me.  Dorothy wasn't in Oz very long before she realized that she simply didn't belong there. (She wasn't a good witch or a bad witch -- she wasn't a witch at all!) And the prodigal son certainly didn't belong in a pig sty. You might say, "Make yourself at home," or "Mi casa su casa," but the truth is, if I have to bring a suitcase and a toothbrush with me, it isn't my home.

. . . family.
Home is the place where my family is. That's why people talk about going home for the holidays, and then leave home to travel halfway across the country. Dorothy missed Auntie Em and Uncle Henry. The prodigal son missed his father. If I'm not with my loved ones, then I'm not really home, even if I do have a key to the door and a deed to the property.

. . . unconditional love.
Home is where I can be myself, mess up, and still be welcome. Try that on the job and you will soon find that "your" office is not really yours at all. Auntie Em welcomed her little runaway back with open arms. The prodigal son received an extravagant welcome from his father. If I don't feel loved for who I am, then I can't really relax and be at home in a place.

When these three things are present -- belonging, family, unconditional love -- then I am home. When any of them is missing, I am unsettled, transient, spiritually homeless. But how many of us can honestly say that we have all three of these things under one roof?

Dorothy hoped to find such a place "somewhere over the rainbow." Many go looking for those blue skies and green grass on the other side of the fence. The prodigal son sought it in a hedonistic lifestyle. But the moral of the story is the same each time: you don't need to go looking farther than your own back yard.


(Next installment: yes, really.)

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