“Where we love is home …
home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
It is so good to be home. I sit on the deck, this beautiful Sunday afternoon, book in hand, wine glass filled and sitting tableside waiting to be enjoyed. When I decided to leave the west, with all of its stunning beauty, and return to the humid, snowy, bug-besotted Finger Lakes region of NY … well, let’s just say that many of my friends out there thought I was crazy. Yes, it can be frustrating when you hang your laundry and two days later it’s still damp, or it’s a given that you need to get up an hour earlier most winter days to shovel your way to the car, or you buy allergy pills and/or anti-itch cream by the caseload (ok, slight exaggeration there, I admit) … but, this is such an incredibly beautiful area: A landscape covered with a legion of lakes, rivers, creeks, waterfalls, canals, and dense prismatically colored forests; shale crust deeply furrowed by ice-age gorges that still weep crystal clear water, moraines dotting their bases; ground softly caressed by checkerboard farmlands and cavalcades of vineyards; craggy mountains still growing upward, unlike most, and capped with boreal life; millions upon millions of acres overflowing with a marvelous and fascinating diversity of flora and fauna – like no where else I saw in my travels. Few people are aware of just how very rural and wild NY is. The city most think of is only a tiny dot on the map of this state, and far far away from me.
Don’t misunderstand me … don’t get me wrong … I enjoyed every minute of The Ride. I saw places I never dreamed I ever would, and met wonderfully beautiful and kind people – generous of heart and mind – every step of the way. I have not one minute of regret or reticence about what I did, and I am grateful beyond the capability of any word in the human language to express … but I am glad to be home. In the wanderings of my journey, I quickly discovered that everyone has a place that shouts “Home!!” to them. It is not necessarily where they were born or even where they lived most of their lives … oftentimes, it is somewhere totally unexpected. But nevertheless the heart knows it. I was born and lived most of my life in Pennsylvania, yet by the age of 16 I knew that Upstate NY was Home for my spirit, even though I’d only visited twice – both times very briefly. A friend of mine who lived in NY all her life knew the moment she stepped from the steps of an airplane in Oklahoma, this was Home. She’d never been there before. Another friend, though originally from Alabama, but living 20+ years in the valley and mountains of northern Utah, recently moved to the red rock country – deep into the four-corners desert west. It has always cried “Home” to his soul. And there are many more similar stories. What is it that makes a place “Home?” What is it our Spirit recognizes? Perhaps a DNA memory – a connection to the land deeper than we realize. Perhaps we look down from the heavens long before we are born and pick a place … and the game of life is to find it before our bodies wear out. I do not know, and it doesn’t really matter. All I know is that The Ride is at long last complete; I have returned home, and I have returned to myself. And the joy of the full recognition of this is as deep as the gorges of this land, and as kaleidoscopically beautiful, and indefinable indelible, as the heavens above.