Home. What is home? That seemed so simple as a child. A brick, three-bedroom house on Pfeiffer Avenue. It was where my parents slept in one bedroom, my sister and I slept in another, and my brother slept in the bedroom across from the bathroom. It was where I walked to from school at lunchtime to have my mom-made baloney sandwich. It’s where my dates picked me up and dropped me off (yes, even the guy who picked me up in a hearse). It’s where my mail came from friends I had made at church camp.
But now it is not quite so simple. My parents have died. My sister lives in Houston. My brother is moving to Tennessee. Is Akron still home? I have pondered this as I reflect on the word home. Caleb’s home used to be with me. Now his home is with two other young men with disabilities living in a house in Firestone Park with paid staff who run the group home. Lydia’s home was with her parents but now she lives in Hartville with a home of her own with her boys...about 20 minutes away
Is home a place? Or is it a state of being? What does it mean for one to feel “at home?”
Home is where I am most myself. Home is where I feel most loved. Home is where I feel a sense of belonging. Home contains what I treasure most. Home feels familiar.
Is home still home after loss. Nothing stays the same. Time marches on. Changes break familiarity. Unfamiliarity breeds discomfort and awkwardness. And what you long for and miss cannot be experienced the same again.
Since our honeymoon in Maine, we only vacation in West Virginia. It feels like home. It contains multiple memories among the mountains and hollers, as well as the earth that contains the graves of generations of my relatives. It holds memories of running through the freshly laundered sheets on the clothesline, baths with Zest soap after being grimy and sweaty, the coal burning stove in the living room, the curfew whistle, and trips to Foodland.
Limiting home to a single address is to put the home in a box. Home is where you are your most authentic self, your best self, where things make the most sense. And yet this world is not my home, and I know that eye has not seen nor has ear has not heard the things that God is preparing for me in my final eternal home.