I love to be home. The idea of home brings up contented thoughts of comfort, rest, a sense of belonging. Currently my physical home consists of a cozy one bedroom “townhouse” I share with my husband. But is has been many places throughout my life. I just returned from visiting family in Southern California, and every time I told someone where I was headed for the trip, the phrase that came to mind and out of my mouth was “back home to visit my parents.” Yet as the words hung in the air for a moment, they made me remember how little physical location really has to do with a sense of being home.
While in southern California, I visited the school I used to work at and just walking the path from the parking lot, past my classroom, receiving kind greetings from former colleagues I spent six years collaborating (and conflicting at times), I felt like I was home.
Other (though somewhat ecclectic) places I have felt a strong sense of home are gymnastics gyms, where the stagnant aroma of sweat and chalk meld together reminding me endless balance beam and uneven bars practicing. Those moments of tearfully struggling to master skills cry out in frustration from my memory. But I also remember my best friends growing up who knew me because they struggled with me.
Sometimes I slow down as I walk past a lawnmower or power equipment repair shop because the odor of decaying grass clippings, dirt and grease caked together remind me of my dad’s old shop and my grandfather’s “barn” in Chico. I have even caught myself stopping at the door, inhaling deeply and whispering an embarrassed “mmm” to myself as I let the scent wash through my brain to bring me images of my dad mowing the lawn in the front yard or my grandfather showing me his latest woodworking project. I admit to loving the smell of nasty dirty lawnmowers because they bring me that homey, familiar feeling.
My parent’s house, the school I used to work at, my gymnastics gym, my grandfather’s “barn” all feel homey to me because they are full of people I know, have history with, care deeply for, who love me unconditionally. That’s all part of my community, the place I belong.
It’s hard to be away from all of that here in Victoria. Blessed with being part of a big family and so many communities where I felt I belonged in California, the move has brought to my attention how much I have taken this for granted. Moving to Victoria meant that I was giving up easy access to the communities where I belonged in California. I know that sense of belonging I felt was never mine to cling tightly, but I’ve begun to realize how much I idolized my sense of belonging. It’s gotta go. I loved being part of a wonderful community in California, but I don’t love it more than I love Christ, my savior.
God set us up for needing each other, and in His grace often brings people into our lives so we can enrich each other’s lives.