The difference between being home and feeling at home

Dear Pope Francis,

As I’ve mentioned in my last couple of letters, there were some big changes in my life this month. For starters, I moved half way across the country and back in with my parents. Settling in to my new room at Mom and Dad’s has had me thinking a fair bit about what home means.

It’s often said “home is where the heart is” and living in New Brunswick this past year it was definitely true. I was so homesick, not so much for Ontario but for my family because they’re such an important part of my life. But since I pulled in to the driveway of the house I lived in as a teenager on Monday afternoon, I’ve been missing my home in New Brunswick.

More than anything, I think it’s this sense of being home but not feeling at home that has me missing the province lived in for the better part of the last five years. I haven’t lived with my parents for more than a few weeks in two years now, and I’ve lived primarily outside their home for the last seven.

The last few times I’ve been home, I’ve shared a room with different sisters as siblings have moved out and family dynamics have changed. Now I’m moved back in for the foreseeable future, and I have my own room, but I have a really hard time thinking of it as my room.

ImageIt’s getting easier to recognize as my space now that my wall decorations are up and my bedspread is on the bed, but I remember the room being dark green with a rainforest wallpaper border and zoo animal curtains. That’s how it looked when I last lived at home and it was my brother’s room. Now the wall and carpet are both shades of blue from when my sister redecorated after Michael moved out.

It’s not the colour of the walls or the floor, or the fact that the room is at the front of the house facing the asphalt street instead of the grass in the backyard that makes me not feel at home. It’s not the different furniture or the renovated kitchen. It’s a sensation of being an entirely different person than I was when I last lived in this place and a recognition that my family changed quite a lot while I was away.

I think the difference between being home and feeling at home is that you really can be home anywhere so long as the people you care about are there with you, but without the routines of your life independent of them it’s very hard to feel at home.

What I’ve also been thinking about is how church fits in to my sense of being at home. When my family moved away from Brampton the biggest lack I felt in my spiritual life was not having a group of people I could talk to about my Jesus stuff. I didn’t feel at home in Toronto until I joined the community at Spring Garden Church in North York a year after I moved there, and my primary attachment to my university was in the community I found in the on-campus chapel and the people I met through campus ministry.

I changed churches in my fourth year of university because of some intense personal issues with another member of the community, and something I struggled with was not feeling at home in the church I moved to. Over the last two years I developed a deep appreciation for the pastoral team at St. Dunstan’s and solid friendships with a couple of young women I met there and through people I associated with the church. But I never really got the ‘at home’ sensation I had at Spring Garden and the STU Chapel. I never really developed a group I was comfortable being around like what I had at St. Leonard’s growing up.

I think the at home sensation will eventually come as I integrate myself into the parish community at my new/old church. I’m an adult now, not a teenager, which I think will actually make it easier to get involved in ministries, whether it means joining the choir again or volunteering to be a lector, or asking to be trained as Eucharistic minister to the sick, or finding a way to be involved with the youth ministry.

I have a lot of time and energy on my hands, and I feel like there’s going to be opportunities for me to develop my skills and grow as a person in my church and in continuing to blog about this journey on here.

I’m thinking about going back to school part-time for a Masters of Divinity to better equip myself to work in a ministerial setting. Which is weird, since I’m not really sure what ministry God wants me in I just feel like I’m meandering in more or less the right direction with moving to Toronto and specifically looking for work in Catholic media and ministries. This is also a little weird because it’s a combination I was totally uninterested in as a career when I was planning my post-undergrad life three years ago.

Trying to feel at home now that I’m home,

Meredith

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