Ruth 1:16-17

16But Ruth said,
“Do not press me to leave you
or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go;
Where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
and your God my God.
17Where you die, I will die—
there will I be buried.
May the Lord do thus and so to me,
and more as well,
if even death parts me from you!”

John 14:23
23Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.

2 Corinthians 5:6-9
6So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord— 7for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.

Our book group has been reading and discussing Diana Butler Bass’ book, Christianity After Religion, and in Chapter 6 Bass discusses home and identity.  I actually had trouble with this section because I’m not sure what is home for me.  I mean I have a home; I live in a house, with my husband, one dog, 2 parrots and a seminary student so that isn’t the issue.  What is my question is “what does home mean?” 

I grew up in Ohio and moved to a farm when I was 5 years old so for the next 19 years of my life my “home” was this wonderland place chock full of discoveries, and sadness.  When I was 24 I moved from the farm and began a kind of nomadic life.  I moved every couple of years from home to apartment, state to state, city to city, and moving many times within cities.  My latest move was in 2000, when I was married, and moved into the house I am now living.  When I moved into this house I told John, this was my last move and I would be carried out of here feet first because I wasn’t going to pack up all my “stuff” again!  But, given my past history that may be a wish made on sand and someday I will have to, reluctantly, move from this house. 

When we discussed what was home in our book group I realized I was the only one who had no clear sense of home.  In fact I have no sense of a home town, or place of origin at all.  All of the places I have lived are really far in the past and clouded with time. Does that sound strange to you?  It didn’t to me until I began to listen to the stories of home from others.  For instance my husband can identify one spot as his hometown, St. Charles Iowa.  That is where he was born and grew up and despite not living there for 50 some years he still calls it home. 

I can’t do that; there is no one place I would call home.  Heck, there are times when I drive up my own driveway that I have to remind myself this is my “home” and I belong here.  For me where I am is home.  As long as I have my friends, companion critters and now the family I married into I’m home.  I don’t have relatives to speak of.  My parents have passed on; I haven’t seen any of my family of origin in 40 some years.  The family I have is the family I have created around me, a group of individuals, couples, and families I feel strong connections with.  Not one of them is a blood relative and that is fine with me.  Yet I feel closer to this group than I ever did to my blood relations. 

It is not that they all think like I do because they don’t.  In fact, my guess is we have become friends because we think differently.  But they share something with me that my “own family” never did and that is themselves.  If I need a shoulder to cry on I can count on one of them showing up at my door saying, “Ruth, I had a feeling you needed a friend today.”   Even when great distance separates us I can sense when a good friend needs me to call and talk.  The conversation may be nothing important at all but it means something to my friend and me. I can’t say my own family would ever feel that connected to me.

For me home is where I am, right now, in this place, at this time.  It means for me being with God, family, companions, friends, creation in whatever place or time I am in.  If I had to suddenly leave the place I currently shelter in I can do it.  I would grab what is important: my husband, my companion critters, my backpack throw in my bible and a change of clothes (my vanity wouldn’t let me wear the same underwear two days in a row, I’d add soap as well for cleanliness is next to Godliness),and walk out closing the door behind me.  The stuff in the building is just stuff and can be replaced, none of it is important.  As long as I have those that I love (and a change of underwear) I’m good to go.  Were I end up I’d be HOME.

So I guess I am saying I am “home” wherever I am, I don’t need a specific location to call “home” I just need to feel close to what is important and what is important is love and companionship with those who I love and who love me.  God will not abandon me, where I am God is because I experience God in the love I give and receive.  What else is needed?  Someone once said “home is where your heart is” and maybe what that means is my heart is my home, the ultimate shelter, the ultimate place I meet and live with Love.  I am Home.

Ruth Jewell, ©April 12, 2013

I and You

I was one with YOU
before I came
              longing to return

Time invisible winds up
like a runner running a race
                unknowing becomes knowing

Knowing yet unknowing
longing to know YOU
      in world
            out world
                longing unsatisfied

Longing for YOU
stop seeking
               sensing YOU

PRESENCE invisible
always here
   embracing relationship
      calls to me
         unknowing becomes knowing

©Ruth Jewell, July 22, 2010

Ramblings: Summer Reading

I just finished reading I and Thou by Martin Buber (translated by Walter Kaufmann, 1970) and I love this book.  I am struck by the realization that 3 years ago I wouldn’t have understood Buber and am forever grateful for the last 3 years of Theology School, and Father Mike, for giving me the tools to open my heart to words that inspire.    But on to my brain dump.

This was not an easy book to read, there are concepts here that I am struggling with but, still, what sticks out for me is the development of relationship as the fundamental basis for our growth as human beings.   And, if I understand Buber correctly,  the I-You world relationship is more than the relationship between I and another Human, or creation, the ultimate YOU is God, Spirit, ruach, Allah, however I identify the Divine.    In fact God is never in the I alone but always in the I-You relationship, and because we are always in that relationship we are always in the PRESENCE.

Wow, Buber has opened a door I’m not sure I can shut.  He defines true community as one that only exists in relation with the PRESENCE, the I-YOU world.  God didn’t create community because the YOU was lonely, God created community because without the I the YOU can not exist.  We are bound with invisible strings to the Divine YOU in all things, like the front and back of a sheet of paper, like light and dark.  Without the YOU the I would not be able to recognize self and without the I the YOU would not be able to be recognized.  I am still processing this, so much of this book makes sense until I start to take it apart, so there will lots more thinking on this book.

In addition to reading Buber I have also been reading John O’Donohue’s Eternal Echoes, Celtic .  Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong (1999), and it is a nice companion to I and Thou.  Both books emphasize the importance of our relationships and how we long to return to the relationship with YOU.  The longing for the return of that relationship is hardwired into us from the moment of our conception.  We spend our lives trying to bridge the gap between us and YOU and that longing is what drives us to seek more than surface impressions for our lives.  Even those who settle for things, material and physical know in their hearts that such ‘stuff’ is not enough.   Each in their own way Buber and O’Donohue tell us that reaching into the mystery of being is never safe but is the only way to find what the heart longs for.  I have no idea where I’m going with this, just that I’m trying to make some sense of what I’ve read, so you all get to listen to me, lucky you.  It has taken me 63 years to figure this part out, I sure hope it doesn’t take another 63 years to figure out the next part!

©Ruth Jewell, July 22, 2010