What does home mean to you? Is it a place where you grew up, where you live now, or where you want to be? Is it a person who makes you feel loved, a feeling that gives you comfort, or a sense of belonging that fills your heart? You might have heard some quotes or adages about home that give you a warm feeling. For example, “Home sweet home”, “Home is where the heart is”, or “There’s no place like home”. But what if home is not something that you can easily define or find? What if home is a fluid thing, an elusive concept? That’s how I feel about home. In my lifetime (70 years) I have moved 30 times. As an adult (after age 21) I have moved 26 times. Now, I am living in Spain in a lovely apartment for a little over a year. The fluidity of “home” has brought me to the conclusion that I have no home. This is a sobering thought.

The funny thing is, I have always been a homesick person. Ever since I was young, I would cry if I had to leave my parents. I can remember going to Girl Scout camp and feeling hysterical when my mother was about to leave. She couldn’t leave me, so the first night she stayed and I slept in the car with her. I can’t remember if I stayed at the camp or if she left. All I can remember is the terror and sorrow of being homesick. When I left for college, I cried the first week there; I missed home so greatly. Now get this – I was a children’s evangelist for almost 30 years. I would stay a week at one place, then drive to the next and stay a week and so on and so on. At the end of the week I would feel some level of homesickness because I was leaving something familiar. Even now, I still get homesick when I have to leave a place or a person. But what “home” am I sick for? I don’t know.

I suppose if my parents were still alive, I would consider their house my home. But they both passed in the mid 1990’s. And I realize it’s not always a place you might be homesick for. It might be a person, a feeling, a comfort, or a sense of belonging. But I am missing home and I want to go there. Sometimes I wonder if home is something that exists only in my memory, or in my imagination. Maybe home is a collage of all the places and people that I have loved and lost, or that I have left and longed for. Maybe home is a mosaic of all the experiences and emotions that have shaped me and changed me. Maybe home is a kaleidoscope of all the colors and patterns that have brightened and darkened my life.

A few years ago, when the mass exodus of middle-eastern people was happening in Europe, I was living in The Netherlands.  Thousands of refugees from Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan made their way across Europe and many found their ways to The Netherlands.  Our church welcomed them, helped them and provided for them.  Oh, the government in The Netherlands did a great job in a lot of ways, but many churches rose up to help meet the demand.  Needless to say, our church went through a bit of a metamorphosis.  We added services, translators, held classes, made meals and gave general social aid to help the refugees feel at home in a new country.

There were several people who stopped coming to church.  These people were Dutch people who had been coming for years, even decades.  There was one young couple (relative to my age) who left.  We were friends so I asked them honestly, why did you leave?  The answer?  It just doesn’t feel like home anymore.

I said to them, “it’s not supposed to feel like home.  It’s a church and it’s doing what a church is supposed to do.”  I don’t know where they are now, but I hope they feel at home.

So, what is home?  Someone asked me if I was going home for Christmas this year.  First of all, I had to remind them that I’m Jewish and my family does not celebrate Christmas, but after that reminder, I asked, “Where is home?”

I have two sisters and several cousins whom I love very much.  Most of them have children and grandchildren whom I love very much.  I have many friends and some for many years whom I genuinely love.  sunset 3331503 1280 2 copyBut home?  I would certainly be intruding if I stayed there any longer than a few days.

Is it possible that my homesickness is due to missing heaven, my eternal home?  How can I miss someplace I’ve never been?  But will that be the place that will feel like home?  I hope so, because I am so homesick.  I just want to go home.