When my family moved the summer before my senior year of high school, I was really upset about it. I was born and raised in the same house my entire life up to that point, and the thought of leaving the home I knew was incredibly scary and sad for me. My parents told me though that they wanted to move before I graduated so that the new house would come to feel like home to me before I left for college. They would say, "Welcome home!" every time I walked in the door for a while until the new and much more spacious house became home.
So I often am a little thrown aback when I hear my friends say, "I'm going to my parents' house for the holidays." or "I'm going to spend the weekend in fill-in-the-city-name." Yes, some of them are married, have steady jobs, and lives of their own, or not many (or any) siblings are still living at home, and while I am a full-time student, I live full-time in DC and pay rent and bills and struggle with the transition to "real" adulthood every day. Yet, when I talk about my holiday or weekend plans, I say, "I'm going home for Thanksgiving."
Home is not about the building, which I discovered my senior year of high school. It is about familiarity - sights, smells, sounds, feelings. And even though I don't live in that house anymore - and as much as I love my family, hope to never move back into that house again - I still feel when I come home as if I haven't lost my place in that space. Yes, life there has continued on without me while I'm away, but my appearance doesn't disrupt the order of things and I still have my usual place to sit at the table and an old creaky bed to sleep in. It's a place where there will always be a place for you, because there will always be people there who love you no matter what. So using this idea of home, it is literally shocking to me to hear people my age no longer refer to home as home.
I sometimes wonder if I will ever get to the point where I no longer refer to home as home. Maybe when I get married and start a family of my own, or when I get settled more permanently in a house instead of renting an apartment. Only time will tell, but I just can't imagine it. Because that house is my home still, even though I don't reside there (unless government and tax officials are reading this - I am totally still living there!).
I think this concept can also be related to God as well. When we all say that we want to go to Heaven someday, we don't hope to visit our Father's house or that obscure but beautiful city on the hill - we hope to go home. It is precisely because of Jesus Christ and his ultimate and awesome sacrifice for each and every one of us that we can even have the hope of someday referring to Heaven as home. We hope to be welcomed home with open arms, not only as adopted children of God through His son and our brother, but also as sons and daughters of God through flesh and blood - through the Eucharist. Home is that place where we will be loved, despite our shortcomings and many downfalls, as long as we come knocking on the door, asking to be forgiven.
So for now, I will continue to say that I am going home (to Westerville) for Thanksgiving, but I will also continue to pray every day that when my day comes, I will be ready and able to be welcomed into the ultimate home.