We journey home from our separation from loved ones. We journey from absence to presence, from departure to return.
If you are like me, and I don’t believe I am alone in this, each year at this time we undertake a trip, a journey, you might even call it a pilgrimage. It is at times an actual physical journey by car or train or plane. But at other times it is a journey much more in the imagination. What the journeys have in common, however, is that their destinations are the same. In both cases, we journey home. We journey home from our separation from loved ones. We journey from absence to presence, from departure to return.
In our imaginations we return home to even those who have already left us, separated whether by circumstance, tragedy, or the eventuality of permanent loss. We come home to them in our hearts and imaginations because that is where our heart truly resides. They are people with whom we felt grounded, centred.
The journey itself is sacred. It is as though we are keeping a sacred trust to make the journey.... to return to the place, the people, the memories, from where we came. It is the movement from a periphery to a centre. It might even be, at times, a movement towards redemption. We seek to keep the promise of return, and in doing so, we seek completion. To return home is to become grounded once more, grounded in the people and values from where we came and in which we still believe, regardless of how difficult it is at times to remain true to them. We seek to keep the promises which we have made, to others and to ourselves, to not forget: to not forget our family, values, memories, responsibilities, promises, friends and loved ones. In the keeping of those promises we remain true not only to our loved ones, but also to ourselves. It is in part a question of who we are.
We await the moment when we are again in the midst of kin and friends who recognize and accept us for who we are. For that is truly home.
We succeed in the keeping of the promise, moreover, in the moment of the arrival itself, in our transcendence of distance, difficulties and obstacles, physical or social, self-imposed or from what lies without. While we journey, we anticipate the moment when the door opens, when we are received into the light and warmth of family. We await the moment when we are again in the midst of kin and friends who recognize and accept us for who we are. For that is truly home. Yet even there, even at “home”, even in the middle of the circle, there may well be imperfections of understanding. Still, in spite of them, home remains the place to which we long to return. It is the place where we return in order to try once more to set right whatever imperfections there might be. In this way home can become, in our imaginations at least, all that it might be.
Loved ones know in their own way, without our having to utter a word, that whatever things we have temporarily misplaced or set aside, in our efforts to contend with the demands of modern life, are somehow restored there to us when we come home. They are restored because of what home means to us. They are restored because of warmth, love and smiles. They are restored even by the comfortable, easy silence, as you stand listening to it, while watching the snow falling softly outside.
In a sense, we might even say that the journey home is in good part a journey to come home not only to a place and others, but to ourselves as well.