As I fly away from my home country for a planned two years I have returned to thinking about what home is.
Since December last year I have been technically homeless, staying with my parents a few weeks, in South Africa a few weeks, London, Amsterdam etc Then I was in Sweden for three months, where I was doing an intense school so I wasn’t really “home” home. But that said, for the last five years I have regularly spent three months out of Australia. I have slept in uncountable floors and bunks and back seats and airports and planes. I have even slept on road sides as I hitch hiked across two states.
So I am no stranger to moving around. And I came to view home as wherever I unpack my stuff. Even if we were just doing ministry for six days somewhere. If I unpacked my shirts to a shelf or under a bed, I was home.
I have had some really strange homes, in some of the most beautiful places on earth, including a tree house in Thailand, a school in the hills of Timor Leste, a shed in Cunnamulla and a back packers in Myanmar. And when you make home somewhere there’s always that special feeling of walking two hours up and down mountains to that last steep uphill climb to your shed home, or the last ten stairs up to the hostel, or the last bump on the road on the way to the centre in Siem Reap.
Home, is where we are safe. Home is where people are that we love. Home is where we know where our stuff is. Home is where you can drink as much tea as you want. Home is where smells are familiar, stains have a history and giggling is usually done often.
I’m writing this from a bus driving south from oslo which will end up in my new country home of Sweden where a friend of mine will pick me up and take me to our home. I am very excited to have a home for a solid period of time. I’m excited for this new season. But it also makes me look back and remember some of my favourite homes. And why I loved them.
Which I will do with a proper keyboard because this ios touch screen in cramped quarters is no good.
I am home. In a new little apartment with a room mate I have seen awake yet, and a kitchen that is unfamiliar and a bathroom that i already love. I am looking forward to a lot of this home, but I would like to share with you some highlights of former homes.
I grew up in Chifley, in a former three bedroom, now five bedroom house. We had great neighbours, we were close to school, we were close to a green belt and a BMX dirt track. We were walking distance from a little shop and a big shop. I grew up with three siblings and church pastor parents, so our house was always full of people and noises and music. I loved it because it was warm and friendly and safe and empowering. Our parents trusted us kids a lot, and therefore gave us a ton of freedom. We were well comforted, well fed, well educated and our father spent a lot of our childhood reading us books until the wee hours of the night (7pm). Unlike a lot of my peers I lived in that house for my entire childhood except 9 months that we lived with my grandmother to take care of her. My parents still live in that house, and it is still lovely to visit.
House of Love.
At 19 I moved out of home to a three bedroom house in the deep south of Canberra to be closer to my work place. I ended up living with a large collection of people. First three, then two, then four, then two, with an eclectic bunch of friends and family sleeping on our couches. We cooked, and had fires, and had parties, and recorded bands, and wrote music, and occasionally cleaned. We were a hub of a strange community that i loved and cherished. We cut down many trees, a tree house and so many bushes that 3 years after moving in the owner came to visit and was like “where’d that bush go?” and we legitimately didn’t remember what bush he was talking about.
At 23 I moved out of The house of Love and moved into a bigger crazier version called Lewis House in Newcastle. First time living out of Canberra, i would then live there on and off for five years. I had an American room mate – John, an Aussie roommate – Evan, A Japanese Hawaiian Roommate – Jeff (and Micah for 3 months) and for the longest period a Kiwi – Michael. They all taught me a huge bunch of things, they gave me space to be awesome and crap. And surrounding these amazing dudes was a community that was sometimes 50 and sometimes 120 people, all with similar goals and dreams, but with unique flavours and personalities that meant for an amazing adventurous fun time.
And now, at 29 I move to a different country. With a very different culture and language, and for a time i get to room with an amazing Korean dude and work with a French-Candadian, an Australian, a Swede and a Belgian and many more besides in this new home.
Thank you to all who have been home to me. Thats the other part of home – other than where i unpack my stuff.
I was hanging out with Luke Summerell one time and it finally dawned on me. Luke is home for me. As well as many other people on the planet. Wherever i hang out with Luke, I’m home. Whenever i talk with Luke, I’m home. Even when I iMessage him from a billion miles away, I am home. As well as a lot of you reading this. I am home with you.