I planned it to be nearly 6 weeks long, and everything has gone according to plan, so it really has been 40 days since I've opened my own front door. It's my longest trip in over 30 years. I've been to the other side of the world and filled my heart with things new and amazing. Here in Arizona I've spent time with people and in places completely familiar and as comfortable as my favorite hoodie. It's been truly wonderful to be so many different places that felt so good. Almost like home.
For the record though, and in the spirit of being where one is, I am really looking forward to going home-home. There's a certain amount of energy required to live out of a suitcase, and so far, my energy has been high and fairly constant. Now, the new year has started, people have gone back to school and work after the holidays, and I feel like I'm lagging a bit, trotting breathlessly to catch up. I've missed some things while experiencing others. It's the way of the world that you just can't be two places at one time. (I know that's obvious, but sometimes I wish, just a little, that I'd never miss anything.) Tomorrow I go back to where I was before.
As I think about travel and journeys (and home), though, it occurs to me that perhaps there should be progress to measure. Am I really going back to where I was before or have I changed as these many miles have moved by? I think I have, even if just a little. One thing I wrote recently to a friend seems still to be at the heart of what's on my mind.
New Zealand had the effect of both opening my mind and whetting my appetite for more travel while simultaneously confirming the fact that home and family matter more than excitement and new horizons.That is absolutely true for me and I know the above statement probably seems contradictory, but it's how I feel. There is much to learn and be gained by travel and exploration, and I hope to continue doing both of these, as I've always dreamed of doing. Beyond that though, what really might matter most is the blessed ordinariness of being with loved ones and having the opportunity to serve and connect in everyday ways; these are the experiences that have and will continue to shape me most profoundly. In the stories we followed through New Zealand, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, one of the primary themes is home: the protecting of it, the returning to it, and sometimes, the redefining of it. Another theme is losing the self and doing the hard thing for the greater good. The mountains and lakes of the Land of the Long White Cloud were wondrous, and I hope never to forget the way they made me feel, but the people on the trip, then the people present at my various reunions and partings while in Arizona, those are the real treasures in my mind. Additionally, there are people in Maryland who missed me while I was gone, and I them, and, I tell you what, that is a good feeling. To have no home to miss, well, that would have made Bilbo's and Frodo's journeys nearly meaningless, as it would have mine.
Home means different things to different folks, but here is a thought that resonates for me: Navigating and nurturing relationships is the true meaning of home and, at the same time, the greatest journey of life.
I'm grateful to understand that a little better, because it means that every day and every place can hold both adventure and surety, each warming my heart in their turn.