We like to resettle into home immediately. Without hesitation. We each unpack and before we know it the washer is going. We find places for anything we have brought home with us and put away our luggage. We go through the mail and stack the papers. We water plants, and if it is still daytime and the lawn needs it, Bruce will mow. I may head to the grocery store to replenish milk and other necessities and figure out what to fix for dinner. Before we know it we are each in our favorite chairs, comfortable in our pajamas. We are home --and life goes on.
That's not to say that catch-up time is not needed after an absence. This week, for example, I am huffing and puffing to re-insert myself into the scheduled assignments and readings for the online writing class I am currently taking. And there are bills to pay and a long list of emails that need attention. Yes, I had my laptop and iPhone with me, but I devoted only minimal time to them. Only for the necessities. Plus, I have not seen my Dad for over a week and need to schedule more than phone time with him.
But in this case re-entry does not add up to stressful moments, erasing the pleasures of the recent days. I wondered about that, thinking about past times of return. When re-entry means a return from a trip out of the country there is jet lag to handle and maybe a feeling of displacement. Where am I? What is it I am supposed to be doing now? Did that vacation really happen? Was I really just in Paris a few hours ago? There may even be a reluctance to let go and re-enter.
Several times, when we were trying to sell our house, a showing would be scheduled for just the time we should have been driving the car into the garage. Once returning from a week in Florida, I listened to messages as we disembarked the plane only to discover that we would not be going home, but would have to camp out at a coffee shop because of a scheduled showing. All we wanted was to get home, for once the direction is back towards home getting there, being there, sleeping in one's own bed becomes the goal, and sometimes one's energy is stretched to make arriving back at home possible sooner rather than later. Delays are not appreciated.
Now, however, the schedule is ours. Bruce is not heading back to work the next day no matter what time we arrive home. Now we have the luxury to treat leaving and returning as times in themselves--time to be in that moment of anticipating the days to come or to reflect on the days just enjoyed. There is time to be grateful. To notice the extraordinary in the ordinary.
When we lived at our Sweetwater Farm in Ohio, my heart lifted and I started breathing faster as we approached home. I felt that way whether I had been gone for a week or only a few hours. I felt welcomed by that place as much as I hope we were a welcoming presence in that home for others. I always felt a sense of sacred re-entry there. I feel myself opening to that feeling here and now as well. Thich Nhat Hanh says, "The path around our home is also the ground of our awakening."
I try to remember to express a prayer of gratitude for our safe return, to do that as part of my re-entry routine, but I must admit I am often too distracted by heavy suitcases and bags as I cross the threshold. Later, however, as I re-bond with home, lighting a lamp, turning down the bed, folding the clean laundry, I know I at least sigh my deep thanks for the leaving and time away, as well as the return and re-entry.
Phil Cousineau quotes Trish O'Reilly in his book The Art of Pilgrimage, The Seeker's Guide to Making Travel Sacred, "…you are now back where you started and you have to know you've come full circle." What does that mean for you? Did you bring yourself back with you? Has something shifted for you while you were on the road and if so, how will you keep that awake in you now that you are home? How can you enlarge your circle because of the time you have had away? Are you more aware that the sacred is everywhere? I would love to know.