Thursday, February 19, 2015

Thursday's Post: Returning Home

Ready to Head Home
After two weeks of fun and easy time in Florida warmth and sunshine, we have returned home. One of the purposes of traveling and vacationing, it seems to me, is to know the pleasure of returning home--in spite of the frigid below zero temperatures here in Minnesota. Even though we loved our time with our dear and generous friends, how good it was to open the door of The Little House and to be home. 

Never mind that one of the smoke alarms was beeping and the battery needed to be changed, (Note to self: February, 2016, change all smoke alarm batteries.) and one of the window shades had pulled away from the top.  Those are only minor "that will teach you to leave for two weeks" pokes. Our daughter had stopped by to turn up the furnace before picking us up from the airport, making the house toasty warm for our arrival. I had worked to leave the house clean and ordered, which I knew would add to the ease of re-entry. Our daughter invited us for supper and even though it was shocking to head back out into tundra temperatures, we were eager to reunite with our family. Oh, how we missed the grands! Seeing them right away was another signal that we are truly home.

Generally, we handle re-entry well. I know some people like to ease into their return, unpacking in stages, for example, but we move into action. We unload our suitcases and get the laundry going right away. We sort through the mail, even opening the bills that arrived while we were gone. I make a grocery list and if we have returned early in the day do the grocery shopping right away. If this were summer, Bruce would mow the lawn and begin working in the garden. Soon one would never know we have been gone. 

For some people this kind of immediate settling-in routine might feel as if they are letting go of the pleasures, the adventures, the sights and sounds and experiences of being away, but, instead, for me re-bonding with our life here at home is part of integrating those times. For example, if we have brought any treasures home with us, I find a place for them, re-living, as I do so, the enjoyment of finding them at an outdoor art fair or the terrific independent bookstore we had read about or the beach in Sanibel. 

Along with these treasures, I usually return from trips with various resolutions tucked into my suitcases--to eat better or exercise more, for example. Or I have formulated some redecorating plans or I have jotted down lots of ideas and thoughts for future teaching or writing. I am not sure what the long term effects of this recent time away will be, and not everything sticks as ordinary days take over, but I know if I listen carefully and if I plan for reflection time, I am more apt to clarify the gifts of this recent time. 

In fact, I experienced one gift the first morning home. In recent months I have not routinely included meditation time in my morning quiet time. I have read stimulating and thought-provoking material. I have written in my journal and spent time in prayer, but meditating has fallen by the wayside. Ah-ha, I realized while sitting on the beach. I need to change where I sit when I meditate, for my reading chair is  too cushy, and I also need to change when I meditate. Instead of doing it first thing after getting up and coming up to my garret space, I need to keep that activity separate from the rest of my devotion time, doing it after my shower when I am more awake, and doing it right before I begin my writing time. And that is what I am now doing. Who knows if this new thought about a spiritual practice that nurtures me would have occurred if I had not stepped away from it for a period of time? 

When I facilitate a retreat for a group or an individual, I often end the retreat by asking the participants to consider what they might do to bring the learnings and new awarenesses into their day-to day life. I ask them to think ahead to what they might need in the first days home--both from themselves and from those around them who were not part of the retreat. What do you want them to know? What will it be important for you to share? Is there a next step you want to take now that you have had this experience, one that may have been profound for you? How will you make home even more your home because of what you have just experienced? 

The time away, the time-out, has added to who we are, although it may take awhile to discover what that means, and this process of settling-in is a way to blur the lines between vacation time and life at home. 

     …sometimes  we don't know our true home, or where 
     we most belong, until we leave there. The pilgrim's
     journey home is an opportunity to integrate the 
     learning and experiences of the present with the memories
     and relationships of our past…The way of the pilgrim is
     essentially about fostering greater connection between our
     past, our present, and our future…To become whole, we
     need the journey and we need to journey home.
                                      Pilgrimage, The Sacred Art, Journey
                                      to the Center of the Heart
                                      Dr. Sheryl A. Kujawa-Holbrook
                                      pp. 148-150                           

Even though being away from home is not always a pilgrimage and even though travel may not be considered an intentional retreat, still, there is always the possibility for new growth and insights when we are not in our daily routine and are away from our accepted loop of life. In these first days of resettlement how important it is to pay attention and watch and listen for the gifts of being away and returning home. 

An Invitation
When did you last leave home? How did that time enrich your life and what have you done to integrate that time into your ordinary life? Are you currently planning a trip, and if so, what can you do to ensure that you are awake and aware from the time you leave home till you are safely resettled? I would love to know.   

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