Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition. – James Baldwin
When you think “home” what comes to mind? Is it the house where you grew up? Or is it a gathering around a communal table, maybe Thanksgiving or another national or religious holiday, where family members come home to be together, to feast, and to share? Does home stir up good memories, or are thoughts of home painful or ambivalent?
For me home is more a state of mind and condition being rather than a specific physical locale. Perhaps that comes from a childhood where my father’s career necessitated a move every few years, or maybe it stems in part from my own vocation as a pastor, where my faith teaches me to imagine home as more far reaching than even the vastness of the night sky.
For me, home is found wherever the ones I love have gathered. Home is where my community of faith meets. Home is the places where grace blankets the brokenness of this human journey. Home is where people lay down their differences and share a meal, however humble, and converse with the intent of breaking down barriers and building bridges. Home, for me, is what it means to be human. I can be equally at home in the church parsonage where my family currently resides, in the home of a relative or friend, or in a house of faith where all are welcomed. I am at home by a campfire on a crisp autumn night or walking at the water’s edge on at the shore. I am at home in the garden, the forest, the prairie, or anywhere that creation is cared for and cherished.
So with that broad and permeable definition of home, what is not home? A place that is not home is where there are limits placed on who is welcome. Home is not where any of God’s children are exploited or where the market calls for us to buy and consume and amass material goods in a pale attempt to fill a homeless void. Home is not where hatred resides, or where one is made to feel less-than or not-good-enough or an abomination. Home is not where doors and minds are closed.
Instead, home is where there is always an extra place at the table, a cup of cool, clear water, and shelter from the elements. Home is where love, peace, grace, and hope combine to create the heart’s daily bread–enough for all.