Where is home? That's a question I have asked myself ever since I left my family home in Billericay some 20 years ago. For most people home is where they find themselves now. A decision is made, and a house found. However, for those who are ordained and find themselves, like me, living in a house owned by someone else, somewhere we might not have chosen, then home often resides in a different place. Most clergy being ordained now, in middle age, have their own home somewhere else. That property may be rented or used occasionally but is nevertheless somewhere they call home, and may plan to return to at some stage. I, being ordained before I could afford a house, have no other home.
So in a strange way, my parents house, remains my home. I return to it occasionally and it passes the knee-jerk test, of being called home spontaneously in conversation. It's hard, because I would like to make my current house a home, but know however much I try it will never be it...and should I leave my current job I will leave it behind as I have left the five houses I have lived in before behind too.
Being without a home, has made me ponder on a number of things, particularly what will happen when my parents no longer are in their home. It makes me feel rootless and disinterested in investing in the here and now. On a bad day it makes me feel insecure, at the mercy of others, with no autonomy. However, then, when I voice a question like Peter asked Jesus, I am reassured by what Jesus said in reply
'Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.
In fact it is only in the affluent west that we cherish so much our bricks and mortar. Not having a home makes me appreciate being given one, but it also makes me have a kind of solidarity with the millions of rootless people across the world. Unlike me, who has had a pretty easy time (in comparison) giving up things to follow Christ, 42 million people worldwide are currently displaced by no fault of their own - conflict, persecution and disaster. How much harder it must be for them to cling onto any kind of blessing....