So, for my catch up reflection of the day, I start with the phrase, "Home is..." I could get totally cliche with "where the heart is." I could think of a number of other things to so. And obviously this is related to "Love is..." from 1st Corinthians and "Happiness is..." which we see on greeting cards and other "nice" type of stuff.
But I am thinking of it because of my stop in Hampden on Friday. It ended with planning my tattoo. It started with a quick coffee with a guy I'd run with for three years in high school, whose older sister was in my grade, and whom I had not seen in 25 years. Each of us had known the other lived in Baltimore since we found each other on Facebook a while ago but it was nice to get together. What was telling, with regards to "Home is..." was our conversation. Did we occasionally talk about people from our combined past? Yes. Did we talk about specific events from our combined past? Not really? Did we dwell on things in the present related to our combined past? Of course! But the fact that the past did not dominate our conversation helps me answer the question "Home is?"
I know plenty of adults who still think of where they were born and grew up as "home". The fact that I was born one place and moved three months later, and lived in three houses growing up definitely shapes my inclination not to think that way. I know where I grew up. I've been lucky enough to be honored by my high school and undergraduate institutions. I think of where I grew up as just that. And, even where my parents live now is not where we lived when I grew up, so I don't even think of it as the same area.
When I go visit my parents, if we are there for a mass we don't go to the church I grew up going to. And at the time it was mostly going to and not growing my spirituality at. My spiritual growth began when I was an undergrad and has grown since then. The music that I count on as such an important part of mass now makes all the difference.
When I go to visit the area in which I grew up, I probably could recreate the most common 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, and 13 mile routes we ran. But I don't "know" them any more in the way I know my Baltimore courses.
And, in terms of a physical space, my still relatively young family has been in the same dwelling place than my parents have ever been in one dwelling place.
So, when the tattoo artist asked me about what geographical location I'd like the picture I want for my tattoo set in, I simply said, "After all these years Baltimore really does feel like home."
Intellectual. Spiritual. Physical. Home. No doubt in my mind what I will think of as home.
It wil be interesting to see some day how my own children struggle with this. Or whether any of the kids in Sunday school or kids I teach at JHU will have a different interpretation of what home is for them over time.