“So, where are you from?”
Again and again I’ve heard that question, as for a couple of months now I’ve traveled around Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico.
This past week, when I’ve occasionally been asked where I’m going next, I’ve said that I’m headed home.
Then I have heard, over and over, “Where’s home?”
I smile when I think about how complicated the answer is to that, as to any question.
Headed home. We also say that when someone is transitioning out of physical life. In that case, whatever our religion, I guess, home is felt to be a state of being, more than a place. A state of eternal beingness. “I am going home.”
My own spiritual practices teach me that every day, even while in my physical existence here, I may be at home in that state of eternal beingness, if I can just remember that it is so.
My traveling companion and I have been for nearly two months living in a tiny travel trailer and a big tent, moving frequently from place to place in the national forests and other remote campsites, beautiful places, all of them.
Several times when we have ventured into town to buy groceries or do laundry, we finish our chores and say, “Let’s go home,” meaning our little gypsy casita wherever it is parked. We have been practicing “turtle medicine,” carrying our home around with us, if not literally on our backs, at least we have been “making home” wherever we are.
If ‘home is where your heart is,’ as is often stated, then home for me is with people, all over the place, including people that this summer I’ve come to care about, even as I am far from the place I normally call home.
Or, if it’s all just a matter of ‘where you feel at home,’ then I think of the uncanny experiences I have had, time to time through the years, of feeling suddenly, deeply ‘at home’ in the most unusual and diverse places: on a side street in Paris, at Warrior State Park in Tennessee, by a frozen river in northern California, or standing on a rocky outcrop overlooking the North Sea on the Druid’s Isle of Iona, Scotland—these and a few other places have suddenly, amazingly felt like home, a home deeper and truer to my soul than I could have imagined or than I had otherwise experienced.
Or, I think of a time back in the 1970’s, at a weekend workshop at the University of California, when I and hundreds of other people were dancing or at least moving to inspiring music, each of us contemplating an “intention or aspiration.” The intention I had formulated had been ‘making my home, back there near the beach in southern California with my husband and two small children, a more sacred place.’ And as I moved and repeated words about my home again and again, I suddenly heard in my head, literally, the words, forcefully spoken: “The universe is your home!”
Once, a Native American elder told me that I would come fully into “my power,” as he put it, when I was “back home on the land of my birth.” I wonder sometimes if that is true, now that I am at Earthsprings, in a general area of East Texas where eight generations of my family lived before me. Am I more powerful, or as I prefer to phrase it, more effective, now, as I am in my late seventies, back in East Texas, or was I more effective when I was young, giving lectures and workshops all over the country, having articles written about me in magazines and newspapers, etc., when I spoke of home in terms of archetypal principles, philosophical and spiritual dimensions, quoting mystics and others about our “authentic identity” and our ability or inability to be at home in the contemporary confusing culture. How is, then, “power” related to “home?”
Always I’ve felt at home with people with open inquiring minds and inclusive attitudes. Always I’ve felt at home when singing with a group of people, or when “two or three are gathered together” in devotion or prayer. Always I’ve felt at home when I could touch the earth, could see her beauty, whether in seaside, mountains, or plains.
As I head back to East Texas, where I live most of the year, I am going home not only to a place I love, but also to many responsibilities there. Home will have missed me. Maintenance will be at hand, mowing, cleaning, revitalizing, repairing, etc. Home implies commitment and caring.
Weeks ago, with many dedicated people in Arizona, I sang words from a lovely and powerful song, words committing each of us singers to prayerful concern for a young woman with breast cancer: “I will be your standing rock; I will stand with you.”
Home is bedrock, standing rock, foundation, and it is a big commitment, whether it is to place, people, or concept.
My homeland is currently imperiled. Its bedrock principles and values, enshrined in its laws if not always in its history, are being eroded. The sense that we are “one people,” no matter our religion, place of origin, color, gender, or whatever—that we share certain values and commit ourselves to uphold the laws and mores that that entails—this is obviously in danger of disintegration, as polarization and demonization have taken their toll. I love my homeland. I feel deep in my bones the need to meet my responsibility to it, to the best of my national heritage, even as I feel committed to correcting or improving on the worst of it.
So, now, as I travel the last few miles before I round the curve and drive through the gate at Earthsprings, I ponder, deep in my heart, the coming year, the coming next few years; I ponder the meaning of home, in all its depth and breadth for me.
May I be committed and responsible to defend and build up, for the betterment of all, whatever is my home, my nation, the seventy acres that I steward, the whole beautiful earth on which I live, the family and expanded family of humans I love, “all my other relations” in the natural world and in the vast universe, and, of course, the Oneness, the Mystery that is my ultimate home.
So, as I am today coming home to a place where I can again have more frequent access to the internet and this website, I rejoice.
And I send out to you today this pondering, trusting that you know that you are always at home in my heart.
And when you visit Earthsprings, you will again hear me say, as usual, “Welcome home!”