Finding Home

I find myself in a blissful state of gratitude these days. I’m filled with awe at the grace and abundance all around and in my life. I am surrounded by love and joy and a deep feeling of contentment for who and where I am.

It helps that the latest medical results from an overdue checkup validated what I knew to be true all along, that I am healthy in all areas of recent concern. However, I’ll admit that the confirmation brought a little sigh of relief to my lips and a deeper sense of peace to my mind.

It was in this state of appreciation for my body’s ability to heal itself (with conscious and positive support efforts from my daily habits) that I decided to take the long way home on my drive from the new medical center. I investigated the giant fieldhouse and park under construction on the west side of town. I passed the orange cones in one area, a sign that another road was being resurfaced. I could see raw wood on roofs in a growing subdivision across the valley. And as I drove through the historic part of town, new businesses were announcing their arrival in the community with banners and balloons.

Everywhere I turned there was a sense of growth and new life thriving in all its joyous glory! Perhaps it’s because summer is about to arrive, school is complete for the year, the sun is finally shining after days of clouds and tornado threats, outdoor activities are expanding, or a combination of all of it. I was part of the aliveness and added my own energy to the lovely day.

I have lived in this community almost 20 years. There are still many town events in which I have not participated. My preference has been to stay close to my own neighborhood, shop at the same favorite stores, walk the nearby paths, and listen to the distant highway traffic from the comfort of my lovely deck. This is generally all I need to satisfy the citizen part of me. No need to be in the thick of things. It’s enough to know they’re taking place.

Yet today I felt like I was involved and part of a bigger picture. I joined the throngs of town neighbors to support an annual event in the heart of town. It was a short walk from home. An easy commute. I like that there are times like these when I can say, “Why, I remember when…” and I become part of its history, part of the fabric from which a lovely tapestry is being fashioned. I’m going to do more of this.

No longer do I wish for a different or new place to live. If I want newness or a change of scenery, all I need do is take the long way home and open my eyes. In fact lately I’ve become resistant to ideas of moving or traveling afar; there’s still so much to see and do right here. I long for the presence of family members who have recently moved to other states, but I no longer wish to follow them. I’m not done here yet.

This is where I find sanctuary and rest. This is where I’ve done so much healing and growing, with more to accomplish. This is where I love to explore and have learned to thrive. This is my community. I’m finally home.

The ‘Hood

A morning routine I reinstated recently is to spend the first hour after waking in contemplation and meditation. I collect a thermos of coffee, a large floor pillow, my dog and spiritual booklets, and then take them with me to a second floor deck of our house. After reading the inspirational message for the day, I bask in the early morning sun to contemplate its meaning…to meditate.

morning_sunThis ritual is fast becoming my favorite time of day. In this seemingly intimate solitude, I am surrounded by a world bustling with activity and sound.

At any given moment can be heard the horn of a train in the distance…woodpeckers knocking on rooftops…the highway noise of morning commuters…skateboard wheels whizzing to school…a dog barking a few houses down the street…lawn mowers buzzing…or a car door closing before zooming off. There is little human conversation to be heard from my balcony perch, yet the neighborhood is definitely alive and busy. This is when the day comes to life. This is when I feel tremendous gratitude for living here, my neighborhood. Yet, I didn’t always feel this way.

There was a time when all I wanted to do was live somewhere else…move on. My life pattern had been to change residences every two to three years, sometimes more often than that. Life moved quickly and I sped along with it, sometimes unwillingly. Thus, as a result of such a transitory lifestyle, I never really took time to know the neighbors or appreciate my surroundings. Up until now.

As the sun lights my face and the birds introduce themselves in song, I acknowledge the growth of the trees, gardens and me. The roots are deep; the branches wide. Now I welcome the embrace of familiar surroundings enveloping me like a warm blanket. Now I feel peace and contentment. Now I’ve come to appreciate this community and its people.

Most of my neighbors have lived here for more than 15 years! We’ve gone from sending children to school together and to welcoming grandchildren into our backyards to play. We’re getting older, but no one’s in a hurry to move away. We’re not close friends; we are neighbors. We help each other shovel snow, call out a “hello” at the mailbox, yell across the fence to quiet a barking dog, look out for strangers, and wave or smile in passing cars.

It has taken years for me to appreciate how blessed I am to live here. And this feeling of connectedness, of being part of a community, extends beyond the end of the street. I carry the ‘hood with me when I drive across town, visit friends out-of-state, or travel to another country. I look for the threads that weave us together into one beautiful tapestry of humanity, brotherhood or sisterhood…the true ‘hood.

And while I like the variety of colors and patterns of a colorful life, thinking about how it would be to live somewhere else, to experience the excitement offered in a strange place, traveling to different lands, enjoying extraordinary scenery and cultural diversity, there’s nothing quite like returning to familiar and serene surroundings. There’s nothing like a sun-kissed morning on my balcony in quiet meditation. There’s nothing like coming home.


Stay and Grow

I recently watched a movie (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) that had a profound impact on me. It initiated a discussion with my husband in which I became aware of hidden beliefs about where to live that even I had not recognized before. While it is not the desire of either of us to move to India, moving homes has come rather easily to me. My best estimate is that I have lived in at least 47 locations (homes) throughout my life. I’ve never regarded any of them as a permanent residence, including my current home…up until now. And THAT realization is a bit unsettling for several reasons.

I realized most of my life has been built on chaos and transition, always looking forward to a better job, a better marriage, a nicer place to live, more time for me, always striving for improvement, etc. I’ve spent years examining my beliefs about most of these issues and applied various methods to resolve them. 

  • First, I’m happy to say this is the BEST marriage of my life – the most fulfilling and the longest! What has been key for us is having a spiritual base in common and lots of honest and respectful communication.
  • Second, the job as a minister is the most satisfying career for me, utilizing all the skills and experiences gained in every position previous to this one…yet providing ample opportunity for personal and spiritual growth. I love what I do!
  • Next, by addressing my workaholic tendencies, I now create time to do things I enjoy without the guilt; taking mini-breaks throughout the day (e.g., lunch on the deck); even taking one day off each week (hey, it’s a start). In the process, I’m actually getting more done than I was before.
  • Lastly, my house is a work-in-progress…like me. The house has been my primary artistic expression for the past 15 years. It inspires me. And I’m more ‘me’ here than anywhere else. We got married in this house, watched our kids grow up here, and modified parts of it to meet our particular needs and space requirements. I also really like living within walking distance to the center of our small town.

So why my distress over whether to move or not…yet again? What I recognized is that I have held the belief that in order to “grow” into the person I am to become, I need to expand in the physical realm as well – like a larger house or in a location with acres of woods and walking trails where I can contemplate with God. Where did THAT come from? Simply… race consciousness… comparing to others. Enough already.

I’m ready to stop the transitory lifestyle and mental chaos, the endless search through real estate ads for the “perfect place” that will never match up to what I already have and now truly appreciate. It’s time to unpack my office boxes, hang the towel bars and the photographs, organize the nightstand, and create my own personal space because finally I recognize that I’m worthy of having it. Some might call this putting down roots. True. This feels good… resolved… and is how to truly grow strong and confident in one’s own abilities.

No matter how many times I’ve gone away, I’ve always wanted to return here…to THIS house. I’m grateful we listened to the Spiritual voice that nudged us back to this place, one of creativity, security and love… my home. Now I can focus on what really needs to change and grow – me.