The notion of “home”

When and where are you truly at home?

Except for short stints of five months to a year spent living in Asia, I’ve lived in the same small Alberta town for more than four decades, but there’s always been deep within me a yearning to be somewhere else, to be traveling, to see new places. The dictionary calls it wanderlust.

When I did live overseas for a time, it sometimes felt almost surreal. I remember walking the streets of Funabashi, Japan shortly after our arrival there and marvelling that this place, so foreign, so different, and yet so fascinating was actually my home. I lived there!

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Funabashi

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The view from our apartment

A friend who has been an expat for almost six years, living in China, Cambodia, Vietnam, and now Mexico, recently said this: “I am very comfortable here, but every once in a while, say, once in six months, I will be out walking in my lovely colonial town, which looks nothing like what I grew up with, and all the sounds I hear are in a language which I did not grow up hearing, and it is like I am in some kind of strange dream place, and I wonder what is going on.” That got me thinking about the notion of “home.” What makes a place home and why is it that I always have that yearning to go somewhere else, to see someplace new?

I have a theory about why I feel this way. In the New King James Version of the Bible, 1 Peter 2:11 calls us “sojourners and pilgrims.” The New International Version translates it “foreigners and exiles.” The writer of Hebrews says that “we are looking for the city that is to come” (13:14), “longing for a better country—a heavenly one. (11:16) At best, we are temporary residents here. We are pilgrims on a journey. While there is much to be experienced and enjoyed along the way, I believe that there is deep within me a longing for that eternal home. That, I believe, is the source of my wanderlust, the reason that I could probably settle almost anyplace and yet not truly feel at home anywhere.

Interestingly, I was in the middle of sorting through my thoughts and had already started writing this post when I attended the funeral of a long time resident of our small community. Though she was only 71 years old, the lady who passed away had suffered debilitating illness and endured a great deal of pain in the final years of her life. In his message, entitled “Home Sweet Home”, the pastor told us of her readiness to go “home.” He referred to 1 Corinthians 5:1. “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” Our bodies are but tents, temporary dwellings! Like refugees, we live in them until the time comes when we can go to a more permanent home.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not in any hurry to vacate my tent! In fact, with the help of medical professionals, I’m doing everything I can to keep it intact. Though life is often far from easy, it’s a wonderful thing to be able to enjoy all that we’ve been blessed with during our sojourn here on earth and I’m in no hurry to see that come to an end! I’ll have all of eternity to enjoy my heavenly home. In the meantime, I will continue to wander this globe, perhaps never feeling quite at home, but marvelling at all the good things that this life has to offer.  There is, after all, a lot of world that I haven’t yet seen!

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