Years ago I had a discussion with an older married couple. The wife said she had identified her ideal furniture but was waiting to purchase it until she and her husband moved into their dream home. He looked at her and responded, "Honey, we've been married forty years and lived in the same house that whole time. Your dream home? You're living in it!" How many of us are holding out for something better, not realizing that we are living in our dream home, our dream job, our dream relationship?
In An Hour Before Daylight, former President Jimmy Carter writes of his pint-sized hometown Plains, Georgia:
It is difficult for me to explain why the town of Plains is so attractive to Rosalynn and me. It is obvious that our family ties in Plains are strong. We will take our grandchildren and some guests to the family cemeteries, one north and the other south of the town, where our great-great-grandfathers, all born in the 1700's, settled, farmed the land, and were buried with their wives and progeny. Both us grew up here, and at least one of us is related to many of the citizens, who are still our neighbors. Pains is where I've seen the members of my family laid to rest, and where we expect to be buried...
There is a sense of permanence in Plains, of unchanging values and lasting human relationships, and the town has been a haven for us during times of political and financial crisis. Having visited almost 120 foreign countries and "seen the sights", we find the quiet attractions of Plains stronger with our increasing age, so that, no matter where we are in the world, we soon begin wishing we were back home.
Few of us have this kind of multi-generational connection to a physical location. For those of us who have moved many times, home may be more of a feeling than a location. After two years, our home in San Rafael, California is feeling more like home, but parts of me still feel home is Austin or San Antonio or New York or San Diego.
Can home be more than a singular location? What makes for a home? For me, home is where:
- Worth is a given with no need to earn or prove it.
- The external topography in some way mirrors my inner landscape.
- Laughter dissipates gloom.
- My pets welcome me with equal enthusiasm on victorious days and abysmal days.
- My fears and neuroses lay down their armor.
- Gratitude melts my self-centered negativity.
- The people I love most dare to be vulnerable with me.
- I care for a piece of the Earth, and the Earth cares for me.
- I learn the value of setting aside plans and expectations for life as it emerges.
- All those I've ever loved are somehow present, nurturing and cheering me on.
- My heart rests in a Love that even death cannot disturb.
- I'm allowed to be downright crazy for a few minutes each day (but not allowed to wallow in crazy).
- I realize I already have the essence of what I've been striving for.
- A sense of connection with the Eternal frees me to be bigger and better than I have been.
- I learn the art of forgiveness, for myself and for those nearest me.
What is home to you?