‘Home’ is a difficult, even loaded, word sometimes. What is home? Where is home? What do you mean you don’t feel this is home? How can you be leaving home to go home?
I read a really interesting blog post at the weekend, which stated that home may be where the heart is, but it’s also where your heart is known. My response was basically, ‘Eureka! That’s it!’
For a long time, especially as I’ve moved to different countries, I’ve held on to the fact that I can be at home anywhere, because God is always with me and I’m at home as long as I’m with him. Because, of course, he knows me completely. In that sense, I’m always ‘at home’.
Yet as I think about the physical, geographical places where I feel most at home, I realize that it’s the places where I’m known and loved for who I am, for my heart. It’s less the place and more the people – for example, every time my sister has moved house, I have felt at home the first time I walked in the door, and even felt like her city is mine too. It’s why even a holiday cottage or a hotel can feel like home, if you’re with people who know your heart. So Belfast is still the most natural place to call home because that’s where the majority of people who really know me are concentrated. If they all moved, would the city itself feel like home? I don’t think so, actually. Certainly my university city stopped feeling like home for a while, when none of my close friends were living there.
This reminds me how important is it that we get to know each others’ hearts, especially in this transitional city where people come and go all the time. This is one way we can create a sense of home for each other, and it’s worth the investment.