While clicking the heals of her magical slipper together, Dorothy, in one of the final scenes of the Wizard of Oz, emotionally affirmed, “There is no place like home.”
Many of us recall fondly a place that, no matter how far away we have moved, we will always call home. Of course, we can and do make ourselves at home in new places. I have called the following cities and towns’ home:
Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (3x)
Oil City, Pennsylvania
St. Louis, Missouri
Skaneateles, New York
Syracuse, New York
Canandaigua, New York
Harrisville, New York
New Hartford, New York
Warwick, Rhode Island
Newport, Rhode Island
All these places eventually felt like home, but if you ask me where I am from, I will always answer Pittsburgh. That is where I grew up. It is also the place I lived the longest. Every time I go back to Pittsburgh to visit my family, I feel like I am truly home. It is a very good feeling.
Where we are from is not insignificant. The place we call home is important. It does not define who we are, but it helps to shape us into who and what we will become. For many of us, home is where we were nurtured, received unconditional love and where we felt safe and secure. I am not so naive as to believe that every home is heaven on earth, but I do know that growing up in a happy and loving home makes a huge difference as to how we navigate the rest of our lives.
The Psalmists often portrayed God as a loving parent who provides love and shelter to each one of us. God wants us all to have a home! What moves me most about Sierra Leone’s Child Rescue Center is what also moved me when I visited Israel’s Yemeni Ord orphanage. Both of these incredibly caring communities create a home for children who once had little hope of ever living in one. They act as God’s homemakers on earth.
Like those orphanages, we can all practice homemaking by helping to create what Dr. Martin Luther King called a “beloved community.” To work to build such a community can be as simple as taking the time to learn the name of whoever bags your groceries at the supermarket. Even though all the technology available today is amazing and helpful, it can also distract us from homemaking. What is more important, sending a text or giving and receiving a hug?
If you are snowed in like I am today, make some space and remember those warm moments when you knew that there really is “no place like home.” Keep in your heart all the children who have no home and, if it is within your power, ponder how you might help provide one for them. And, most importantly, be thankful that God is, first and foremost, a homemaker. Then, in the still of the dark night, pray St. Augustine’s prayer: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.”
John E. Holt, Cotuit, Massachusetts