As I got into my car after work Thursday, I felt a vague sense of unease. Something felt wrong. But what was it?
There was something wrong. Something was missing.
I went through a mental checklist, but there was nothing obvious. I wasn’t especially hungry or thirsty. There was no pressing need that I was overlooking. But I felt a wave of crushing emotion and then a thought hit me.
“I want to go Home.”
As the waves of emotions rushed over me, I knew what was going on. I wasn’t feeling a sudden need to go to the house where I live. I was filled with the crushing need for something which we all know in a deep part of our unconscious collective psyche.
Home isn’t just the place where we live. Home is a state of being in which we’re where we belong, among people who love us, where we fit and are accepted. To be Home is to experience the magic of knowing you are exactly where you need to be.
Classic human tales are full of myths about Home. In various forms of the “hero’s journey,” the protagonist has to leave Home to fulfill a mission, but the goal at the end always seems to be to find his way back Home. (Consider Home’s epic poem, “The Odyssey,” for instance.)
I’m using “home” and “Home” as two different things. The normal way you use the word — with a lowercase “h” — is just the place you live. I’m using Home — with an uppercase “h” — to represent this bigger and more mythical concept.
Our culture is full of references to finding our way Home. In singer/songwriter Jason Isbell’s poignant 2013 song, “Cover Me Up,” he talks about the transformation in his life that brought him from addiction and pain to sobriety and family. In one of the verses, he sings:
But I sobered up and I swore off that stuff
Forever this time
And the old lover’s sing
“I thought it’d be me who helped him get home”
But home was a dream
One I’d never seen till you came along
He’s talking about Home in the way I mean it. He had always lived somewhere, but it wasn’t until he fell in love with Amanda Shires — the future wife for whom he changed his life — that he understood Home as something to long for. And that love and understanding changed him. Today, he and Shires are married and share a daughter and a music career in Nashville.
If you look at Christian music, it’s full of references to heaven being Home. It’s about longing for Home — such as the well-known old favorite from Pat Terry called “Home Where I Belong” — and I think that’s because the archetype of Home is so strong that we naturally connect it to a place of rest where everything is as it should be.
Home means different things to different people, often because of what’s missing from our lives.
Home might mean a place or time where we grew up which we can’t return to. It might refer to a lost parent or partner who we associate with life as it ought to be. It might even be a formative time in our lives that we mythologize.
When people ask me where I go at the end of the day, I call it home. We all know what that means. But for me, home isn’t Home.
I find myself aching to go Home. I don’t know where it is. I don’t know who waits for me there. I don’t know what it looks like. I don’t know much of anything.
But I know what it feels like. I know the security that waits there. I know the love and understanding and acceptance that fill the place. I haven’t ever been there — even as a child — but I yearn for it. I’m lost without it.
And that’s what I am missing tonight. I want all of the love and acceptance and warmth and peace that we associate with that place where we long to be.
I want to finally be Home.