It used to be the simplest concept for my mind to comprehend. “Home” is probably the first word I understood, without even knowing it. HOME was what my mother’s arms were to me before I even knew she was a person. HOME evolved into the wooden floors and 90’s colored carpet I crawled on. HOME became the smell of our basement and my dad’s fuzzy blue sweatshirt. The counter where I watched my mom cook and had splinters plucked from my hands, the table where I learned to sing and learned to pray, the garage that always seemed to escape my mother’s perfectionist eye. HOME.
As I grew, I came to understand the idea of “home” more concretely as the house in the woods off of 76th Street. I remember standing in my kitchen one day committing the location of my home to memory as I stared at one of my parent’s address labels. But as my world grew, HOME also began to expand to include the stores and parks and restaurants I knew so well and the streets I drove late at night, praying my dad would be feeling gracious about curfew. I didn’t think much about it, but I didn’t have to. HOME never needed explaining. It was the first and truest thing I knew.
HOME got more complicated when I left it. It’s been said that “home is a place so profoundly familiar that you don’t even have to notice it. It’s everywhere else that takes noticing.” I didn’t even realize how at home I had become among the streets and buildings and people of my town until I wandered through new streets and buildings and people. The idea of home has suddenly gotten more complex than I could have imagined. When I write my “home” address now, I’m not even sure what state or zip code to call mine. But it’s more than that, it was when I took a weekend to visit my parents and realized I liked my bed in Chicago better. It was when they changed the name of the auto shop on the corner and when I had no one to call on a Friday night. It was when I texted my sister “I feel like I pulled up all my roots in Grand Rapids to move to Chicago and I’m trying to grow roots there, but I don’t know how. I have no roots anymore.”
I now believe that home is more than where your roots are currently planted. HOME can be wherever your roots have been- it can be a person, or a place, or a feeling, or even a smell. I think you can have it in different places all at once. HOME is what I know I’ll feel when I hug my sister for the first time in three months, and HOME is what I plan on celebrating on Thursday over a table of food. And even though I’m still struggling to plant my roots down, I have a feeling that there will be a shimmer of HOME when I shove my dorm room door open and throw my bags on the floor in a week.
“WE are your roots.” was the text I received back from my sister. She was reminding me that my family is my roots, my HOME. I will always belong to them. I will always have a place in my family. I will always have a spot at the table, even if it’s been a long time since we’ve sat down to eat together.
HOME is belonging, it’s having a place that is all yours. It’s comfortability and safety. I’m learning that home is not as concrete as I believed and roots are not planted forever, that people and scenery change and the things you think mean everything to you can somehow start to fade.
This shift I’m experiencing, this displacement of mine, is a bittersweet reminder of my coming HOME. My eternal place to belong, my real comfort and only safety. These homes I know and adore, they are only reflections of what is to come. These HOMES I feel are a glimpse of Life as it is meant to and will someday be.
I have a home on 76th Street and even a tiny closet of a home in Chicago. I have roots in my family that I couldn’t pull up if I tried. But those homes and roots pale in the light of the place that is set for me at my Father’s table. I have a place to Forever belong, I have Roots planted deeper than I could have ever hoped, and I have a Home that I was created for.
I can’t wait to commemorate my roots and all of my homes over mashed potatoes and pie in a few days (Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday to celebrate!) My heart swells with thankfulness when I think of this life I get to live and what a wonderful place I have to belong. But on the days when I feel like my roots are still hunting for soil to grab, my mind is desperate to feel safe, and my heart longs for a place to belong, I can know it’s because I’m not there yet.
I have a home but I’m not at Home. I have a place to belong but I don’t belong here. Even if I can plant roots deep into places or people, I know it’s not my final destination. I am content but not settled. My walking shoes are on my feet because I’m still coming Home.
I hope you’re a part of the Family. Someday soon we will always have a place to belong, brothers and sisters. We forever have a spot set at the Table. Our Roots have a place to rest, our walking shoes have a welcome mat set out for them. We never ever have to fight to belong, to be accepted or loved, and someday soon we will feel it so strongly we will never think to doubt it again. And even as that day is coming, let’s bring it here. Let’s bring Home to our homes, set a few extra places at our tables. Let’s never ever make anyone fight to belong again. We have nothing to lose, friends. Our safety and belonging, our Home, is not wrapped up in anything here. Let’s act like a Family- a Family who is headed Home.