Home is a strange idea. I know it’s more than just a place on the map but physical location does have a lot to do with ones understanding of home as a concept. I’ve been on the road travelling back and forth to the Isle of Mull a lot recently and have just finally set the builders loose on the work needed to extend and refurbish our ‘second home’. That expression, ‘second home’ still feels alien and sounds so odd to me. Over the last months there has been the gradual, slightly guilty, dawning of the middle-class realisation that we actually have two houses. According to the local council a house is a second home if it’s not your main address and if you can prove you occupied it for more than twenty-five days in any Council Tax year.
From age ten home was something I got to go back to when I was let out of boarding school. It was definitely geographically located where my parents were and it was a place which was familiar – family like. It was always a huge relief to return to the space of my bedroom where the door could be closed and I could be on my own. For a committed introvert boarding school is probably about the least friendly form of education I can think of – there are only communal spaces – dormitories, classrooms, showers, meals all shared with others all the time. No real concept of or allowance for anybody who might need ‘down time’ to recharge. Home was where I spent the least of my time.
After college, when I married, home became and remains wherever Sue is. Initially in Winchester, then later following her around the UK wherever her ministry took us. You do try to make a Manse feel like your home but you do know underneath it all that it is really tied accommodation and you don’t perhaps invest as much of yourselves in it as you might because you know that home will be somewhere else afterwards.
Where is home now? It could be said to have two geographic locations five hundred plus miles and a boat journey apart. One place feels like home already as it was really a return journey and we were able to put our stamp on it quite quickly. Gradually our island home is also beginning to feel like home – beginning to develop that familiar feel.
An old friend once described our home as being like Rivendell – I can’t think of a bigger compliment. I know it’s too simplistic to say that home is a particular house, or a collection of things, or a web of relationships and neither is it simply ‘where the heart is’. To be honest I’m not even sure what it is. It is all of these things and none of them. Perhaps it’s just where you find belonging. I may not have a clear understanding if what home is but I know it when I feel it. Home is expressed in those physical, emotional and yes, spiritual spaces the heart has been allowed to shape.
Ramdas says that in the end “We’re all just walking each other home”. I do like the sentiment of this but home is also the way stations for the journey now.