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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Home

You will always be surrounded by true friends.  Home is where the heart is.  You're my home. The above 3 thoughts have been swirling through my mind as I get closer to going back to the States, now less than 2 weeks away.

The first thought was a fortune cookie saying that I saved and recently found laying on my bed, having fallen out of wherever I'd put it for safekeeping (my change purse maybe?) I've written about it before as it also resurfaced when I was in India.  I'm sure you know the second saying.  The third is the title of a Billy Joel song that I've always loved. The gist of the song is that his home is wherever his love is.

For me these 3 thoughts seem to describe my journey pretty well. I have felt surrounded by friends everywhere I've been. Sometimes those friends have been the ones I've met in whatever country I've been in, even for short stays like Turkey and Italy. Sometimes I have felt the embrace of friends from across oceans. Many times, actually.  My heart is in Louisville, KY. My heart is in Atlanta, GA, where my brother and his family live, even though we haven't spoken much while I've been gone.  My heart is in Chatra, Jharkhand, India. My heart is in Jerusalem and Nablus. My heart is in Alicante, Spain and Wasenaar in the Netherlands. These places have been my home for months or days, but a piece of my heart remains in each and I know I will be welcomed back as family when I go back again. I was going to write "if," but the idea of not returning puts a lump in my throat, so I choose to write "when."

People ask me where my favorite places have been. How can I choose? Each place and each person I've met has left a mark on my heart.  I was talking to a friend a week or so ago who was saying she didn't think any of our lives meant much in the grand scheme of things. I told her I heartily disagree. Sure, maybe our names won't go down in history books, but that doesn't mean our lives are meaningless. She is a mother and certainly her life is incredibly important to her children and, therefore will affect their relationships with everyone else around them, which will in turn ripple out to affect other relationships...   I will likely never see the girls in my Chetna Bharati English class again- Binita, Soni, Prabha, and all the rest- but the love they showed me and the love I have for them (which I hope they felt)  will not be forgotten. In India I was welcomed into the home of friends to celebrate a wedding, one of many times I was offered hospitality beyond my wildest hopes.  When I called my "hermana espaƱola" out of the blue to say I was in Spain, she said without hesitation, "Get on the next train to come here," a response more generous than I could have hoped for.  In Jerusalem I was welcomed into the home and busy lives of new friends. I could tell story after story like this.  I guess I have in some previous posts... My list of "favorite places" will be long... My heart is in each of these places as well as places like El Salvador and Guatemala, not recently visited, but ever-present in my heart.  They continue to influence who I am and how I try to live...

You're my home... I think Billy Joel is singing the song with one person in mind. I love the sentiment, but am glad my own scope is broader. I don't have a husband or boyfriend, but, as I explain above, my life is not devoid of love by any stretch of the imagination. I am blessed to say my home is not only in Louisville, KY, but many other places. My home is Mom and Dad and the rest of my family and friends, Trinity High School, St. William church, the SCN community, and Project Hope, to name a few. I would venture that my home will become more places and more people, too, as I continue on my journey.

Yes, I am going back to Louisville soon, but my journey isn't over. And so I will try to remain open to new friends, to hospitality, to whatever may lie ahead. Likewise, I will try to extend the same to others, so that they will feel embraced, loved, and at home when they are with me.

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