THAT greatest of world-wanderers, Odysseus in Homer's classical Greek poem, wanted no honor or victory more than the "fair wind that would bring him to the "honey lights of home. Home means as much to most of us. And getting back to a single room or tiny flat can mean as much as coming home to a mansion. The home to which many so passionately want to return may be only a tent or a hovel. Television pictures showed Eritrean soldiers walking hundreds of miles to go back to barren, starving villages.
Home obviously means far more than a physical place and comfort. "The feeling of being 'at home' is the feeling of belonging, Linda Weltner, a perceptive essayist, writes in No Place Like Home. It is "a sense of the fitness of 'having come down where we want to be,' as the Shaker song puts it.
There's an even more basic coming home that isn't dependent on a loved location at all but is the journey that brings one back to the soundest landmarks of the heart and soul. There are times when it feels as if the heart of humanity itself might be turning for home. The beginning of this decade is one of those times.
The search for spiritual purpose seems to have a new openness and energy. People yearn to come home now to the values that they thought might have disappeared irrevocably in the decade just passed. They know there can be an end to violence and oppression and corruption as a way of life in cities, statehouses, and businesses--an end to feigned concern and practical indifference.
Scientific Christianity shows there's a reason behind this strong desire to come home to more truthfulness, more caring, more spiritual values. The reason is that man has a home.
We belong to God--not the god in man's image, the god no one can quite believe in, the god eternally on the lookout for sin, but the real God who is the source of whatever love and goodness and meaningfulness we've felt in our lives. Christ Jesus tells a parable about homecoming that never seems to lose its edge, no matter how often we hear it. The father forgives the prodigal son, and he says to the older son words that seem as much the essence of God's message to us as any words in Scripture: "Son, tho u art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
Man simply isn't a material creature, and he can't live with the belief that he is. Such a belief is de-spiriting, because man is, in fact, like God, divine Spirit, his creator. Man is the expressing of Spirit, and to deny this or to ignore it is to desiccate our best ideas, ignore society's truest wells of hope and inspiration.
There's nothing embarrassing or superstitious or unscientific about this relationship of ours to God. It is our connectedness to purpose and reality. In it we find healing and wholeness, and the true nature of our Life, which is God.
"When the human senses wake from their long slumber to see how soon earth's fables flee and faith grows wearisome, then that which defies decay and satisfies the immortal cravings is sought and found, writes Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science. "In the twilight of the world's pageantry, in the last-drawn sigh of a glory gone, we are drawn towards God (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany). We have doubted it long enough. We anticipate the joy of being where we b elong, of being welcomed, wanted. Even heading in the right direction gives a feeling of being on course. Now it is the time for coming home.
This is a condensed version of an article that originally appeared in the "Thinking it through column of the October 28, 1991, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.