I remember first seeing the door of my uni room as a fresher. Heavy wooden, dark, gold handle, situated around the right bend of the ground floor corridor. My family and I pushed it open to possibility, and an unfamiliar room, a room which was a stranger’s, not home. (It’s a room I’ve since come to love for the sweet memories it holds, but in that first moment it was brand new, different.)
We unpacked, and my family left. The door closed, a symbolic severance between the past and the present, between home and moving away. A symbol of change.
Flash forward nine months and my toes sink slightly into soft, rainy grass. This is home ground, the park I’ve walked through a thousand times before, growing up.
Despite familiarity, something twists and turns inside of me. I’m home, but I’m not at home. Everything’s in the same place, it’s all familiar but somehow it’s changed. I’ve changed.
As I closed the door to my university room for the summer, I realised I was a different person to the girl who walked in there way back in October. I’ve learnt and experienced and grown so much, and this muchness now colours ‘home’ with a different tint. I can’t quite put my finger on it.
Last week, a beautiful friend of mine shared with me a poem she’d written, about finding roots and home. They were brilliant, subtle words which I cannot accurately remember; however I do remember the sense of shifting and deepening underlying the pursuit of roots and identity, an identity bound up in place and memory and people.
I think we all on occasion have similar feelings. Feelings of how our roots are deepening, of how we’re growing…of how things change. It can make us feel less at home in the places which we’ve come to call ‘home’.
This change, contrary to what I first thought, gives me great joy. There is joy because I now find myself feeling more/most at home not in a particular place, but in the presence of a particular Person. I’m most at home, most myself, when I’m resting in the presence of God – a rest I can enjoy whether I’m at university or in my hometown. At home with God, there’s no masks, or hiddenness, or pressure to do or say or be anything special. I can be small because God is so big; I can let my weakness show because he is the powerful one.
Thus the changeability of going to university and coming back to my family for the summer has taught me many things, of which this is one: my home’s in God, and I can rely on him wherever in the world I am.
‘Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’ Matt 11:28-30