Notes on a Buddhist path

Going home

May 20, 2013 By | 4 Comments

Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.” ~ Hermann Hesse

Last week I went home for my birthday. Calling a place “home” may be a specious label for a geographic place, implying sustained faith in the constance of a destination in this otherwise impermanent landscape. Rather than a piece of ground, home for me has come to mean people rather than an attachment to buildings and businesses, shifting earth and fickle skies. Relationships are the tendrils that weave their tender veins through my life, offering me through each exchange, each point of contact the chance to extend and accept immense gratitude for this rare journey of humanness.

In my short time away from the city, I picnicked by a sun stroked lagoon with a dear friend where we watched clams being gathered in the bared warm sand. We crossed the damp tidal pools and climbed a wildflower sprinkled outcropping to discover our first chocolate lily, nodding in the ephemeral whiteness of a perfect afternoon. I bathed in the laughter and juggling of two fledgling girls held in the ardent patience of their mother, and savoured the bounty of her garden and her life.

I slept in a womb of silence and was treated to meals cooked with love and rhythms of boys and men and women all talking at once, each sound orchestrating itself into a rhapsody of familial chords heard only through the heart. I walked with my dhamma sister through an ancient forest, and listened with ernest appreciation to my dhamma brother as he shared the Buddha’s teachings on my birthday night over sweet chocolates and rose tea. I surrendered to the healing powers of needles, singing bowls, loving hands and homemade sourdough bread.

Jack and Rosie's graveI gave my cat, Jack, back to his sister, Rosie, tucking his ashes into the stone hollow of her grave. The moss I had scattered on damp rocks four years before had blossomed into a countenance of soft green firmament, a heavenly blanket caressing the decay of leaves and twigs, skin and bones left behind on this island we all once called our home.

Over dinner my last night another remarkable friend gave me a gift that still astonishes and humbles me to my core. When I first pulled it from its wrappings, confusion, recognition, disbelief and complete and utter awe flooded my awareness. He had bound into a stunning hardback book all of my blog posts over the past two years. I was beyond words, the tears welling in my eyes, then in his, then in his partner’s eyes as I witnessed a kindness and respect I had rarely felt in these years of walking, breathing, writing and living on this planet.

On this brief sojourn to my once home I was gifted with space and time, with generosity and replenishment of my spirit. A current of beauty ran through me as a young buck ate from my hand, rapture stood next to me when I curled my body back towards the earth to gaze as the celestial netting of stars in the night, and sorrow held me in its arms when I walked aboard the ferry that would begin my journey away from this home and towards the place where I now lay my head at night.

Thomas Wolfe said you can’t go home again. If we believe the memories and verve of a past life will still be alive in the present, then our presence will be marred with unattainable graspings at a smoke-and-mirrors delusion. Yet if we can see a place, a person, an experience with new eyes in each encounter, it can illicit in us the propensity to find home wherever we may be, whether it is a small island, a city of millions, or the solitary vastness of a meditation cushion. All of it is arising and passing, arising and passing. What life asks of us is to let go and truly come home. At last.

A Spiritual Journey

By Wendell Berry

And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, 

no matter how long, 

but only by a spiritual journey, 

a journey of one inch, 

very arduous and humbling and joyful, 

by which we arrive at the ground at our feet, 

and learn to be at home.

From The Collected Poems of Wendell Berry, 1957-1982, by Wendell Berry

Quote by Hermann Hesse from Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte

Image credit:

© Tess Wixted, all rights reserved

Comments

  1. Thank you! your blogs are beautiful :)))

    THE KINGDOM OF LOVE

    In the dawn of the day, when the sea and the earth
    Reflected the sunrise above,
    I set forth, with a heart full of courage and mirth,
    To seek for the Kingdom of Love.

    I asked of a Poet I met on the way,
    Which cross-road would lead me aright,
    And he said: “Follow me, and ere long you will see
    Its glistening turrets of Light.”

    And soon in the distance a city shone fair;
    “Look yonder,” he said, “there it gleams!”
    But alas! for the hopes that were doomed to despair,
    It was only the Kingdom of Dreams.

    Then the next man I asked was a gay cavalier,
    And he said: “Follow me, follow me.”
    And with laughter and song we went speeding along
    By the shores of life’s beautiful sea,

    Till we came to a valley more tropical far
    Than the wonderful Vale of Cashmere,
    And I saw from a bower a face like a flower
    Smile out on the gay cavalier,

    And he said: “We have come to humanity’s goal —
    Here love and delight are intense.”
    But alas! and alas! for the hope of my soul —
    It was only the Kingdom of Sense.

    As I journeyed more slowly, I met on the road
    A coach with retainers behind,
    And they said: “Follow us, for our lady’s abode
    Belongs in the realm you would find.”

    ‘Twas a grand dame of fashion, a newly-wed bride;
    I followed, encouraged and bold.
    But my hope died away, like the last gleams of day,
    For we came to the Kingdom of Gold.

    At the door of a cottage I asked a fair maid.
    “I have heard of that Realm,” she replied,
    “But my feet never roam from the Kingdom of Home,
    So I know not the way,” and she sighed.

    I looked on the cottage, how restful it seemed!
    And the maid was as fair as a dove.
    Great light glorified my soul as I cried,
    “Why, home is the Kingdom of Love!”

    —Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    • Dear Okei, what a glorious poem! Thank you so much for sharing it here, and, as always, for your kind and generous words. May you always be close to home.

  2. Home is where the heart is… so “may you always be close to your heart” 🙂

    And thank you for the comment on my blogspot. Since moving there, I was amazed to see I got a comment that wasn’t from a robot, and only today turned off anonymous commenting because of this problem.

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