The first time I heard Hebrew being canted in the synagogue I cried. "I'm home," I thought to myself, discreetly wiping the tears crawling down my face. I certainly wasn't expecting that response, but there it was. Home.
Not too many years earlier, I had a similar experience. I was standing in the choir loft in a large assembly giving my whole heart and soul to worship and fellowship. I remember thinking happily to myself, "If I were to die right this moment, I will have fully lived." The feeling of belonging and the complete contentment it brings might define home.
Recently, I heard another speaking in the same tone, expressing their experience in finding their community 'home'. It made me stop and ponder; what is home and what prompts, what I call, the 'I'm home" response?
“Home is not where you live, but where they understand you.”
The feeling of being "home" is not speaking about a place, but of a place of belonging...which may be your home or somewhere else. I'd like to tweak Mr. Morganstern's quote a bit. Perhaps the more accurate definition of home would be where you are accepted, not just understood. Understood is great as long as it is a true understanding, not just perception or expectation. Acceptance is better; accepted not only for who you are, but accepted as a valued, respected and needed member of the group. A pretty heavy burden for a congregation, or any group, to live up to.
It is true that 'home' doesn't need to be that emotionally charged. I had a homeroom in high school and claim Federal Way as my hometown. I homeschool my children and we have a home in a lovely suburban neighborhood. None of those uses of home is fraught with emotion, at least not for me. Some have a home church, as well, that they attend for decades without incident - do they always feel like a valued member of the congregation or is it simply the place where they go every Sunday for an hour or so? Could it be that so many dislike change enough to stay in a known group rather than risk the unknown? If so, do they still feel like it's home?
One can choose a 'home', be it a congregation or other group, due to convenience or obligation. Can the potential joy that is possible with truly feeling at home in a group still happen in this circumstance? I have heard of couples struggling to come to an agreement as to where to worship when one wants to attend over here and the other over there. One of them will just have to decide to make the chosen place 'home' for them. Not impossible, I'm sure, but a decision just the same. Will they ever feel that overwhelming, heartfelt emotion of belonging?
Tradition may be why some call certain environments home. Children who grow up in a certain community or neighborhood feel a strong affinity and emotional bond to the familiar. They did not choose it, but rather it was imposed upon them through the decision of others. My own children feel the traditions of our faith to be 'home' for them, as it is all they have ever known. Will it remain their emotional, religious home? Only time will tell.
Maybe everyone has a different definition of home, with some putting great emphasis on emotional fulfillment while others just use the term to denote a place.
home, n., a) where you live at a particular time, b) an environment offering affection and security, c) housing that someone is living in.
Home. An interesting concept to ponder.
“It's the most precious thing...to know absolutely where you belong. There's a whole emotional wrapping-around-of-you-here...To be intimate is to grow, to learn; it is absolutely fulfilling. Intimacy, that's my magic word for why I live here.”
Yeshua said to him, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."