Home, Sound, & Love

You can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood ... back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame ... back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time – back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.          from You Can’t Go Home Again by Thomas Wolf 

Each year as the holidays draw near I think a lot about home. I love the holidays—the warmth, the gathering in, the light, the celebration. And, I find the holidays hard. There is something really tangible about absence at Christmas; feelings of longing for home and missing those you love are intricately woven into everything. 

People say you can never go home again. In recent years, however, I have decided that I completely disagree. We are home. All of those things we miss no longer exist as we remember them. They are no longer real. You cannot go to them and you cannot put your finger out and touch them. But, you can reach in and access them. We have the opportunity to grasp them and live with them beside us or to acknowledge them and set them aside. These memories are the legacy of home, our sense of home, that we carry with us wherever we go. If they are what remains of home, then we take home with us wherever we go. And, as we live and grow we continuously add new experiences to this cache. By simply being present we are creating home anew each day. It evolves with every breath. Home is where we are. Maybe our place is not where we wish we were at times, but it is where we need to be at this moment in our lives. 

When I was in high school, I spent a trimester living with 12 other students, our teacher, and his wife near Cambridge, England. We studied British Government and Politics, Shakespeare, and my favorite, Ecclesiastic Architecture. As he looked out over the nave at Lincoln Cathedral, our tour guide told us that some people believe that once a sound is created, it never stops. The sound waves keep traveling even though they may fade to frequencies that we can no longer hear. I don’t know how true this is, but the idea stuck with me. When we visited cathedrals, we always went to evensong services at the end of the day. As the light faded that late afternoon and the beautiful voices of the choir enveloped me and echoed through the space, I was overcome by the feeling that I was living with all of the sounds that had ever happened in the hundreds and hundreds of years that Lincoln Cathedral had existed. I had an overwhelming sense of existing with the past and present in one moment all bound up by the invisible force of sound. While I could not hear the sounds of the past, I could perceive them. I believe that love operates the same way. It travels across space and time.

This year, as my memories flood in, as nostalgia tries to take hold, I am turning my thoughts to all of the love I have felt in past moments and am aware of it enveloping me in the present. As I long for the closeness of far away family and friends, I am sending love out to them wherever they are in space or time and I’m sensing it in return. I am sitting in the present, living in my growing sense of home, feeling love travel around me like sound, and finding new joy in the present moment. I am letting love envelop me in this moment and knowing that I am home. I am where I need to be.

This season I wish you love, I wish you hope, and I hope that you are surrounded and held by love.