One Christmas song I like is Perry Como’s version of “Home for the Holidays”. It brings to mind the powerful notion of Home. I see 4 different meanings for the concept of Home:
- There is the most frequent notion of Home as the place where I live. This concept of Home means more than a house. It means a place of safety and refuge. It is the type of Home that far too many are without, especially among my brother and sister veterans. (How shameful! Men and women fight for the Homeland and then have no Home waiting for them!)
- Home also may mean where you are from. Home in this sense is that setting that shaped you in many ways. Not just the Home where you grew up but the locale, the setting, the accents, the regional food. I have lived in El Paso TX for 40 years and the first type of Home is clearly here. But Home in this current sense is Scranton PA, that unique coal town in Northeastern PA that is better known as the setting for “The Office”. Scranton is for me a time and place of food (Dunmore and Old Forge have the best Italian food anywhere!), ethnic cultures, and accents. Because I am from Scranton, I knew immediately what Vice President and fellow Scrantonian Joe Biden meant when he referred to something as “a bunch of malarkey”.
- Some few find an internal home. A place of inner peace that can be accessed any time, anywhere. Perhaps that Home is reached through meditation or prayer. Perhaps it is reached while listening to music. Perhaps it is reached on a long run. This type of Home is available to one and all but, like all great quests, requires some struggle and effort as well as facing the Inner Darkness that first appears when one journeys inward.
- For some, Home is Heaven. The place of eternal rests. My mother referred to this Home on her deathbed when she said “My bags are packed and I’m going to see my girls.”
Home doesn’t just happen. A comfortable physical Home requires taking the time to create that type of environment. To be in touch with the Home where I come from requires some reflection and sifting though memories, some of which may be painful. An Inner Home requires a commitment to the inner journey. The Heavenly Home is a challenge of faith.
I leave you then with two reflections on home — Perry Como himself as well as George Carlin. For this holiday season, may you each have at least one of these Homes to go to.
Reflection: 1. What is Home for you?
Home for me is, yes, a physical location. It provides warmth, shelter, simple comforts, and a place to relax and also do my work in my home office. At home I get to unwind and hang out with my dog who is my forever companion. But spiritually, it is the sacred self within me that never goes away and abides no matter what else is happening in my life. That means I can never be “homeless” spiritually. My home is my spiritual consciousness, and even if I have no physical home, I have discovered that my spiritual consciousness is home base, and it can get me through anything.
When I was 38 years old I was rejected from a place that I had considered my home. I began to long for the “ohana” (extended family) of what had been my home long, long ago. Suddenly in the face of rejection, I longed for balmy breezes rustling in the trees, Lomi Salmon, and Pearl City. These memories were associated with safety and contentment. The paradox is that without the eviction, I would never have found my true home.
Nice meditation. And Carlin capped it off perfectly.
Thanks Mitch! Nothing better than being “safe at home”!