“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.
I 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
© Tess Wixted, all rights reserved