Throughout the world, many people live far from the place they call home. Many others have no place they can call home.
Years after losing her home, Mary Baker Eddy, the 19th-century theologian who founded this newspaper, wrote: "Home is the dearest spot on earth..." ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," page 58). I, too, have felt that sentiment. Although she moved from boardinghouse to boardinghouse for years before settling into a home of her own, she never lost sight of St. Paul's assurance that "in him [God], we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28). Her books and articles quote this verse frequently.
Bible stories and poems encourage the homeless and heartsick. David, a shepherd who later became king of Israel, had no real home for years. As a young man, he lived in fields with his father's flocks. Later, he served Israel's first king, Saul, both in army camps and in Saul's palace. When Saul's envy of David flared into murderous hatred, David fled for his life (see I Samuel, chapters 16-30).
Although he lived as a fugitive, hiding in desert caves and in foreign lands, his psalms, or songs of praise to God, are filled with affirmations that we all dwell safely, blessedly, in Him.
"Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations" (Ps. 90:1). "Blessed are they that dwell in thy house" (Ps. 84:4). "I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever" (Ps. 23:6). Mary Baker Eddy paraphrased this line from the 23rd Psalm as follows: "I will dwell in the house [the consciousness] of [LOVE] for ever" (Science and Health, page 578).
The idea that our home is in God, divine Love - in His unceasing care for us all - has grown increasingly precious and practical to me over the years. My childhood home was not a happy one, but eventually I found a wonderful home in another city where I lived happily among dear friends for over 20 years.
A few years ago, my husband and I felt drawn to new jobs in a new city. So we packed up and moved. The jobs were challenging, and we learned a lot. The new city was beautiful, as was our new house. Our neighbors were warm and welcoming.
But it was not home. For two years I was homesick. I missed my friends and the rhythm of my day-to-day life. Many mornings I awoke in tears.
During those two years, my husband and I visited our previous home several times. Each time it was hard to leave, but one weekend it was impossible. I told my husband I did not want to go back. I would stay with friends, get a new job somehow, find an apartment and we would move back home.
My husband, looking more than a little alarmed, coaxed me onto the train with the promise of more frequent visits. I got onto the train teary-eyed, my stomach twisted in knots.
During that four-hour train ride, I prayed deeply to God to find peace. I was desperate to feel tangibly God's nearness and care for us all and to feel at home again.
As I opened my sobbing heart to God, a startling question occurred to me. Did I truly believe that I could be happy only in my previous city, in a 36-mile square of God's good earth? Did I truly believe that the infinite God was more present in the city where I lived previously than where I lived now?
David, who spent years as a fugitive separated from family and friends, said of God, "If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there" (Ps. 139:8). So how could I imagine that God, good, wasn't there with me right now? And if He was there, how could I fail to feel secure, loved, at home? For the first time in two years, right there on that train, I felt the embrace of home. Later that night, when we walked into our house, for the first time it, too, felt like home.
Some time later, we had the opportunity to purchase a small, affordable apartment in the city where we had lived before. At first it seemed like an answer to prayer, but after some more prayer we realized it would not be a step forward, but a step backward. I didn't have to go home. I was already home, wherever I might be - home in God's love, where all of us truly "live, and move, and have our being."