For several years I studied the work of a first century hermit philosopher and ‘market-place diviner’ called Yan Zun, who wrote a commentary on the famous early Chinese text, the Laozi (genre: self-cultivation, statecraft, philosophy, religion). One distinctive concept, fan, meaning ‘return’, discussed by Yan Zun in his commentary, has come into view on several occasions in my contemplation of life purpose. As a seeker, I always perceive myself to be on a journey, sometimes metaphorical, sometimes literal, sometimes both at the same time. And what I perceive more strongly as I age is a yearning for home, and the movement of ‘return’ that will take me there.
A few months ago, I was browsing one of professional photographer Steve McCurry’s photo blog posts entitled “Going Home.” McCurry’s photo essays do a magnificent job at exposing us to the breathtaking variety of colour-shape narratives that frame and infuse our earth and its inhabitants; he captures what (or how) he alone sees; yet we share his privileged eye by receiving these stunning visions. “Going Home” triggered in me a feeling of great solidarity. Without a doubt, the subjects in the photos live in homes quite unlike mine, yet the images offer an open door into a shared reality: we all have or want some place to make ourselves at home. Home is a story of who we are, how we got here, and how we wish to be.
Just this past Christmas, I experienced overwhelming gratitude to be able to just stay at home. And I mean this quite literally: I was holed up at home with only the occasional outing to the corner green grocer for provisions (and, of course, Christmas eve and morning mass, as well as mass on the First of the year). 2012 was a very busy year, and I was desperate for a break, but also desiring for that break to bring me more towards and into myself; to feel settled and at home; to realize or to remember I actually have a home, and to return to it!
May this New Year take us towards many beautiful new insights, giving us food and faith for the journey home.