One of Leonard Cohen’s songs highlights the joy of going home – that when we do that, we can be just who we are, how we are, without any preconceived notions – and that the act of going home will help us to move past whatever might have happened so far. He sings: “Going home without my sorrow / Going home sometime tomorrow / Going home to where it’s better than before; Going home without my burden / Going home behind the curtain / Going home without this costume that I wore.”
I think it’s important for us to all have a spiritual ‘home’ where we can go to, where we can feel that complete acceptance and welcome. A place where the location and people and setting all bring us into closer communion with God. A place where we can simply be who God made us to be, where we can feel God’s love no matter what. A place where we can accept wholeheartedly that we are beloved children of God, where we are inspired to take action in the world because of that love and acceptance.
This past weekend, I went home.
My spiritual home is in a particular church. It’s a sacred space for me not just because it is consecrated ground, but because those walls hold a lot of memories for me. Significant events in my ministry took place there; important discerning conversations took place there; profound revelations of God’s love for me took place there; inspiring prayer took place there; invitations to journey alongside amazing people took place there. It’s a community where I really put down roots; I served there for a few years early in my ordained ministry.
And then I left. I left to serve in other parishes, in different ministry opportunities, in wonderful and exciting parishes. And wherever I am, that place is important – I am constantly being influenced and WOWed by where and with whom I am serving. And where I am becomes a type of home, where I love and serve and delight in God’s abundant blessings.
But there’s always the home home. The taproot. The ‘where I came from’ home. For me, it’s the Cathedral parish of St. John in Winnipeg. I love that place. The people, the history, the memories. The connection – I joke with a friend that when I step into the Cathedral to pray, it’s a local call. It’s home.
So this weekend I stopped in – unexpected, unannounced, a little unkempt after a day out and about with friends. And I was greeted – some of my delightful friends happened to be in the office, and we chatted. We shared laughter and anecdotes and prayer and hugs. It was a treat. It was home. Admittedly it’s not a perfect congregation, because no such thing exists. But I love them, and they love me, and I’m still welcomed as part of the family no matter how often I stop by. It’s always a joy to return, and there’s a hint of sadness to leave. But leaving is never ‘goodbye’, it’s ‘until next time’ – because it’s home.
And so I came back to the fabulously blessed parish I’m now serving, carrying a little bit of home with me in my heart. Knowing that the people I am serving have shared with me their feeling of ‘home’ for the churches we worship in, the fields they work in, the places where they feel closest to God. Knowing that we are gathering together to celebrate the community that we are today, giving thanks for the ‘home’s that have brought us to this place.
Where is your spiritual home? How does it continue to influence your spiritual growth and development? How often do you get to go home?