All of my life, I’ve moved every few years, and all of my life, there has always been the expectation that, one day, I would stay in the same spot and that place would be home. Every stop along the way was just a place to be for a bit on the way to this home.
As I approached my mid-thirties and realized that I was still moving every few years, I started wondering when I would discover this “home,” this place where I just belonged.
During the year we’ve lived in Massachusetts—which still feels as alien as any place I’ve lived—I’ve come to a realization: I no longer believe that “home” is a fixed place.
This weekend in church, we sang Peter Mayer’s “Blue Boat Home“, in which the earth itself is the vessel in which Mayer sails. A portion of the lyrics:
Sun, my sail and moon, my rudder
As I ply the starry sea
Leaning over the edge in wonder
Casting questions into the deep
Drifting here with my ship’s companions
All we kindred pilgrim souls
Making our way by the lights of the heavens
In our beautiful blue boat home
I give thanks to the waves upholding me
Hail the great winds urging me on
Greet the infinite sea before me
Sing the sky my sailor’s song
I was born upon the fathoms
Never harbor or port have I known
The wide universe is the ocean I travel
And the earth is my blue boat home
For years I’ve thought that the “winds urging me on” were the U.S. Navy or my husband’s job or some pathological need in me to avoid intimacy. But I don’t think so anymore. Those were the excuses to move, but not what propelled me forward.
“I was born upon the fathoms/Never harbor or port have I known.” I thought this was something unique to me and other perpetual travelers, but it’s true for everyone, even those who never venture out of the town of their birth. We’re all searching, we’re just searching in different ways, “all we kindred pilgrim souls.”
We also sang a hymn by Shlomo Carlbach, Return Again:
Return to who you are.
Return to what you are.
Return to where you are
Born and reborn again.
My eyes welled up as I sang: this was just what I’ve been feeling lately.
I love moving—I crave moving—but I’ve always thought of myself as a wanderer or a nomad, traveling about aimlessly, following opportunities or whims. But I’ve come to see my travels as part of a larger pilgrimage, not towards a geographical location but towards myself. Changing locations, I get to see myself against a different backdrop. Each new location yields new insights about who I am and what I am. It even gives me insight into where I am: I’m here. No matter where I go, I am always here.
I am always home.