"Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got; Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot ... Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name"
These lyrics popped into my head a couple of weeks ago while I was working at my church. We had received a phone call from someone who was new in town and needed some help, so the pastor sent me out to do a little grocery shopping for this family. After I dropped off the groceries I helped the family to run an errand. While we were driving through town they told me the story of how they ended up in our small town.
Life had been rough the last several years and after moving around in between shelters and the homes of family and friends they finally landed here. They hoped to settle in, to have a place where they belonged, where their kids could go to school and make friends, where they could find jobs, community and stability. They hoped to call this place home.
Home is a powerful word. It conjures feelings of warmth, security and acceptance. Home is that place that is waiting for you at the end of a long day, that place that you can snuggle into, relax and let your cares float away. Home is that place you invite friends into and lock enemies out of. Home is for celebrating, relaxing, comforting and dreaming. Or at least it should be.
Not everyone has had an ideal childhood and even as adults home isn't everything you want it to be sometimes. Home can be filled with disappointment, strife, hurt and pressure. It can be that place where you never measure up, where there's never enough. Home can be the last place you want to be. Sometimes, home is anything but a safe place to land.
But sometimes home isn't a building, its a person.
Over the last few days a local radio station has been doing a radiothon for an organization that helps homeless people get the care and the support they need to get back on their feet. As part of the radiothon, they interviewed the people who have been helped by this organization. Person after person told stories of hope, acceptance and respect. They told stories of home because, although they were without four walls to call home, they had found a place, and more importantly, they had found people, who knew them, cared about them and were glad to see them. This is home.
As I listened to the stories I realised that we can be home for each other. Even though we may not share a house, we can share home. We can be a place of acceptance, hope and support for the people in our world. We can celebrate, relax, comfort and dream together. We can be a soft place to land in a world full of stress, pressure and disappointment.
Being 'home' takes so little effort, too. Being 'home' is just caring enough to realize that we each carry stuff through life ... worries, stress, joys and dreams ... and that if we open ourselves to share these loads, we will lighten the burden and partake in the rewards, together. All it takes is a little patience, a little understanding, a warm smile and a listening ear from time to time.
You want to be where you can see, our troubles are all the same;
You want to be where everybody knows your name