“And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Luke 9:58
By Ann Fontaine
The other day Jim, my husband, said, “I don’t know where home is anymore.” We are continuing the process of selling our home of over 30 years where we raised our three children. We have a home to move to but are in transition, still spending time in one place, keeping it up and tidy for prospective buyers – “staged” as they say in the realty business. Often when we wake up in the night we can’t remember where we are. Luckily the layout of our bedroom is almost the same in both places!
The process makes me wonder about the spiritual benefits of moving. Of course, I know we are lucky to have a home at all, much less 2 homes when many in the world live in refugee camps or have no place to call home. So the first thing I have learned is gratitude, gratitude for the privileges of place, education and support that make it possible to be in this situation.
Another pondering is about the nature of friendship. Friends of 40+ years are irreplaceable, people who have known me since I was young and seen me through thick and thin. Those who know I can be a bozo and still love me are not easily found in a short time of coming to a new place. It brings up the question of how much can I trust my new friends to really know me? Can I take the risk? Can I afford not to take the risk if I want to have real friends? And how much do I need to know about them? How much sharing is necessary and how much do we need to know about each other? I tend to be a pretty transparent person. As one man told me when he and I were interviewing candidates for a job, “Don’t try to make your living playing poker.” So maybe this concern is not one about which I need to fret.
I grew up on the Oregon coast, which is where we plan to make our new home. The ocean and the Pacific NW have always been the home of my heart. We moved to Wyoming and the high desert on the east slope of the Rockies in our 30s and have come to love the wide open spaces and blue skies (over 300 days of sunshine per year) but I continue to have the sense both physically and culturally that Wyoming is a temporary place. Though I have lived more than half my life under these blue skies, the ocean still pulls me back. Will I miss the freedom of the prairies and desert? I notice when we are in Oregon I chafe against all the rules in that more populated place.
And so I wonder, where is home? I wonder if Jesus had not had friends with which to stay, women to pay the bills, and had had to go really far away from his birthplace – would he have been so flip about not having a place to lay his head? Would he have thought it a good thing to be “on the road?” As his home was in God – perhaps he would still have said the same thing.
For me, home is place and knowing the cultural cues, not having to always translate. When I went to Tanzania and was in the midst of a Swahili speaking people all the time, hearing English spoken in a marketplace or café, made me want to rush across the room and embrace me new “best friend.” My grandparents all immigrated to the US as young adults – I wonder if they always felt that sense of dislocation. I have lived in Wyoming long enough that I rarely feel like I don’t know the “lingo” but still there are times. I try to have the attitude of Jesus – being at home in the world, but I need place and people to make it happen.
As to the answer I gave my husband, I said, “It’s easy, wherever we are together – that is our home.”
Moving I is here.
“But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost
evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; …” Luke 24:13-35 (NRSV)
In the darkness of evening
we sat down to eat with the stranger.
As he broke the bread
our hearts saw the sun
rise between his fingers.
The Rev. Ann Fontaine, Interim Vicar,St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church, Manzanita OR, keeps what the tide brings in. She is the author of Streams of Mercy: a meditative commentary on the Bible.