After two and a half years in Florida, my partner Anne and I are moving back to Massachusetts. It is a decision of the heart. We are choosing to be closer to family and old friends and to remembered places that fill us with great love and appreciation. We are returning home. A few weeks ago, as I was on hold while buying our airline tickets to Boston, Simon and Garfunkel’s song “Homeward Bound” began playing in my ear. The synchronicity was unmistakable. I burst into tears.
Those tears held all my feelings of the last two years, as well as the years prior to that. Life is always a mix of joy and sadness, whether you are arriving or leaving. Within each is the seed of the other. And so it is now. I will miss the beauty of the natural world in Southwest Florida and the friendships I have made here, but I will also be filled with happiness at seeing lifelong friends and family members again, as well as beloved nature sanctuaries in New England. Of all the places I have lived in the U.S.—Midwest, South, East and West coasts—Massachusetts feels most like home to me. Part of it is the quality and length of the relationships with people: shared experiences, shared affection. But it is also a deep connection to the earth and nature. I spent countless hours walking, gardening, and bird-watching there. Often the birds would come to sing to me as I planted flowers in my garden—the best of all possible worlds. It is those kinds of connections—hands in the soil, heart open to the world’s wonders—that make a place feel like home.
There are many kinds of homes, of course: The home where I grew up, in the countryside of rural Illinois. The years of excited exploration and awakening in California. The home that Anne and I share, no matter where we are, because of the love that weaves our lives together. And the home within me where Spirit rests in my soul. This latter home is the one that connects me to the Home beyond this lifetime, where we all return eventually. Who is to say which home is best, or more deeply experienced? Each has its place in my lifetime, and each is treasured. In the end, all these homes come together in my heart and become one. When I meditate, I drop into that sacred place, my inner sanctuary, which includes every feeling of home I have ever experienced. With one single breath, I am home.
This is the heart feeling that arises when I hear an old song that reminds me of familiar places and people: “Homeward Bound.” I am always moving toward that center of love that carries me so beautifully through life. In the course of our lives, we circle around to return to where we began, no matter where we have lived or traveled. We come home to ourselves. It is in the circle and the return that I feel peace and profound gratitude for every moment fully lived, every person deeply loved, and every experience completely embraced. My heart expands to encompass all of life as a blessing, as home.