For a small group of adolescent boys in St. Louis, Joe's Place is putting the "home" back in "homeless." (See "Reading, writing, and a roof overhead," The Christian Science Monitor, Feb. 1.)
A yellow house in a residential neighborhood, it's a joint effort of the local school district, churches, and volunteers to provide homeless kids a place to live.
Initiators of this project have clearly caught a vision of home as much more than an address. The feeling of belonging – of being respected, loved, and welcomed – is what home represents to most of us, and it's needed and deserved by every child.
"The dearest spot on earth" is how Mary Baker Eddy describes home. During her early years as Discoverer of Christian Science, she moved countless times and learned to treasure home in its spiritual sense – where qualities of security, warmth, comfort, and peace are deep-rooted, unaffected by changing surroundings or circumstances.
Qualities such as these have their source in God, who is Spirit itself. The fact is we're all endowed with every attribute of home. We never need to generate them or search beyond our relationship with God to find them.
A solid sense of home seemed distant to me a few years ago when my family was facing yet another move. After a string of two-year stints in various cities, I was ready to stay put. And the proposed locale seemed like a less-than-ideal place to raise our young son.
Despite my reluctance to move, I was willing to follow God's lead, as I had learned to do in a lot of other situations. I knew God's design for us promised only goodness, and I reminded myself of this Bible passage: "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it" (Mal. 3:10).
To me, this meant devoting every thought to the omnipotence and omnipresence of God. And it required replacing every concern I felt about moving with heartfelt trust in the Divine, a certainty of blessings to come.
As I prayed, a sweet assurance flowed into my thought: "You have never left home."
Right away, my take on our situation shifted. I'd been asking for much less than I merited as a child of God – for the mere comfort and convenience of a known location and a break from the process of packing, moving, and settling in again. What I got from my prayer was a radically new view of home as my permanent oneness with God, continuous and secure.
With that realization that home is a divine idea, not a physical locality, I lost not only my fear of the upcoming relocation but the rootlessness that our many past moves had left me with. We did move again, to the place I'd initially dreaded – and it brought unmistakable blessings into our little boy's experience. We wouldn't have missed it, or our four subsequent moves, for anything.
Reading about Joe's Place rekindled my conviction that home is right where we are, and that homelessness can be healed by looking to our Father-Mother God in prayer. An invocation by Mrs. Eddy includes these words:
All-merciful and good,
Hover the homeless heart!
Give us this day our daily food
In knowing what Thou art!
("Poems," p. 28)
To know God, even a little, is to feel at home. No one is excluded from this knowledge or this feeling. No one can be without a real place to call home.
My times are in thy hand.