A few weeks ago I was taking a train ride back to Stratford, Ontario where we used to live and as often happens when I travel, I found myself experiencing that strange jumbled sensation which simultaneously and randomly shifts my emotions from the sadness at leaving home to the joy of coming home to wondering exactly where home is to longing for familiar friends and places, yet knowing I will never find them exactly as I remembered them to excitement at the new adventures and relationships I have yet to discover. As I let the changing moods and scenery drift past me, I was reminded of one of my favourite playtime activities as a child: building a home. I spent hours drawing houses on paper and envisioning the 3-D model in my mind. Often I dragged all the kitchen chairs into my bedroom and constructed a maze of hallways and walls. The tall grass and trees along our driveway were the perfect raw materials for creating a primitive outdoor getaway with several small rooms and a grass bed. A simple wool blanket became a tent in my front yard where I could read a book or watch the clouds as the wind morphed them from one abstract masterpiece to another.
I suppose I have moved quite a bit for the average Canadian (13 homes, 2 school dorms, and one year on the road…thus far) and the practice of making a home out of whatever I find around me has been a perpetual mission in my life, but every so often, the whole thing just gets old and tired and I wish I would finally find a place I could plant my feet in and stay put. However, this restlessness is not mine to eradicate and if it were to disappear, I admit I would miss the hunger it creates. I have long since ceased trying to find my home in a “place”, but the constructing of the never-ending dream house still continues. It is smaller than ever because I have to transport it wherever I go, but in many ways it has become larger than I ever imagined: big enough to permanently house those dearest to me, roomy enough to welcome frequent visits from those I call my friends, and never too crowded to house the strangers and needy that come across my path.
What makes me feel at home? Anywhere I sense God is near and the love of a friend is present.