Yesterday evening I texted my mother “I love coming home.” She replied “You always have.” I thought, “What a wonderful thing, to love coming home.” Not everyone can say that. Not everyone has a lovely home to come back to, or people waiting for them with smiles and hugs, or a deep appreciation for the loveliness of their life. And how equally wonderful that that seems to have been true for me throughout my life.
I returned yesterday with a lot of gratitude. I had spent the week before on Martha’s Vineyard. Ostensibly I was “working.” Friends were celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary and asked me to officiate and preach their renewal of vows. I did some work beforehand. We planned out the liturgy. I wrote a sermon. And the day of the celebration I officiated, preached, and offered stage directions to folks unused to liturgies and churches. It didn’t really feel like “work,” though.
I suppose that begs the question of what work is. I’ve not only been lucky in having a home that I love to come back to. I’ve also been lucky in my work. I can’t remember ever having a job that left me regularly feeling angry or depressed. Certainly at this point in my life, though it has its hassles, my work is also my vocation, and so it rarely feels like drudgery. And because my work and my vocation are the same thing, the drudgery somehow completes the loveliness of it all.
So, even though I was working, I had a lovely week in a house to myself in a beautiful place. My friends included me in their family dinners and outings and celebrations. We laughed a lot. I answered a lot of theological and biblical and monastic questions. I grew a deeper appreciation for the richness of my friends’ family and life. And I spent a lot of time on my own, walking the island’s nearly deserted nature trails, avoiding the crowded towns, and reading and quilting back at the house.
I drove home through torrential rain and arrived to smiles and warmth and tenderness. To the familiar smallness of my cell, which is probably the most comfortable place on earth. Touching the leaves of my plants, putting my clothes away in their cupboard, rearranging the refrigerator in the kitchen that had (of course) fallen into disarray in my absence (HA!), I breathed deeply the small and familiar and extraordinary sense of home.
Since I came to the Monastery, I have been many places: India, Ireland, the UK, Martha’s Vineyard, Colorado, California, Vermont, Maine, and more. I have loved them all. And still, my home is my favorite place. I’m never sad to leave wherever I have been and to come back to my little room.
I’ve never lived anywhere as long as I have lived here at the Monastery. There’s no end in sight. I could be here for the rest of my life. That longevity enables a kind of intimacy with my home that I haven’t had anywhere. I’ve always loved coming home, but here my homecoming seems deeper and sweeter each time. Yesterday evening, I walked into Vespers with a big grin on my face, silly happy to be chanting ordinary Tuesday Week One Vespers one more time. Grateful, yet again, for this life I get to live.