As much as I love to travel-and I do travel a lot- I’m really a homebody. Over the last 10 years I’ve written mostly about sacred and intentional travel. I long to go and see and experience the vast world around me. But a pilgrimage is never complete until you return home and bring the wisdom of the pilgrimage to your everyday life. Home is the ultimate goal of a pilgrimage. After a journey into the world, I just want to be home. I want vast stretches of time to be home just reading, cooking and keeping everything tidy. I love to be home. I need to be home. And my home needs me.
I’ve always been a house person. I like to look at houses, read about houses, and visit historical houses. I was very young when I started preferring house magazines to fashion and gossip magazines. When I was a girl, my family would visit homes of famous people and writers. My first mystical experiences in my early 20’s were at famous homes. I could feel the life and consciousness of the place and that is where I learned that houses are people too. Houses have a life of their own enlivened by the people who live there that grows with the house’s history.
Before you decide I’ve totally lost touch with reality, let’s talk about home. Over the last three years, home has taken on a new meaning as we spent much more time sheltering at home from the difficulties of the world. Many different experiences came from so much forced time at home: hardship, loneliness, overwhelm, but also a new appreciation for our private space. As a homebody who could safely gather my family with me, home was exactly where I wanted to be, and I reveled in the expanse of time in my little world.
Home is where we come to rest, nurture ourselves and our family, a safe shelter from the world. Our possessions and memories are stored at home and we gather these things to give us comfort and security. Without these warm and friendly emotions, our home is just a house without love and life. Ten years ago this month, I lost my feeling of home. Yes, I had a roof over my head and a bed to sleep in, but my place of comfort and security was lost to me. My father-in-law had just died after a brief illness and Hamilton and I had one week to move in to the old family farm to take care of his mother who had advanced dementia. We knew this move was coming and were as prepared as we could be but I wasn’t prepared for the suddenness of the move and the emotional upheaval it would cause.
I had a raging case of empty nest and was struggling to adapt to my empty home. When I had to suddenly move from my home of 18 years where I raised my daughters. I knew that my life of motherhood and childhood was completely over and I wasn’t fully ready to move on yet. So my new home, filled with other people’s lives and processions, came as a deep shock and my feeling of home and refuge had completely disappeared. As a person that loves routines, my comforting routines were gone.
The first weekend we moved to my in-law’s home, it was the first of March and it was still cold and dark and the wind was howling and I was in complete emotional meltdown. My world had turned upside down overnight and I felt I had nothing to cling to. I was also unprepared to have such a strong reaction to the move. It didn’t help my mother-in-law and her caregivers were always in the kitchen and so I also lost my privacy and autonomy. It was a hard few month as we settled into our new home. I moved out my in-law’s personal items, repainted and recarpeted, moved in my things and slowly started to feel better. It was quite a few months before I felt like myself again and could make the old house my own. I can look back that experience 10 years ago and still feel how hard that was. But now I love my home so deeply that I see that it was just time that I needed to build a relationship with my new space and move on from the life that I had finished. I gave myself that time and grace—really I had no choice as there was no going back.
Because of this intense experience of moving and rebuilding home, I cherish my home more than ever. My in-law’s left of a legacy of a beautiful old home that has been in the family and deeply loved for 70 years. That kind of love and care builds an energy, an aura, to a house that brings it to life though our love. The family has been in the house 7 decades but the home is over 170 years old and has had a long life before we even arrived. I am just one of its many caretakers and there will be more after me, but I feel the house chose me and I in turn chose the house. We have a deep relationship that nurtures one another every day. Our homes are a reflection of ourselves and we then imprint our lives on the energy of the home and land. Winston Churchill once said, “we shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us”.
Over the course of this year, I’m going to be writing about the ways that our home is a reflection of self and how we can help our homes nurture our lives and we in turn nurture the home and land. We will wander our home and see our external world reflects our internal world and find the places we can foster our lives more deeply and wholly (and holy). There will still be plenty of travel but home is where we return and live our expanding lives—one sacred step at a time.
Please visit my new blog for two new posts. www.thetimelesstarot.com