When do you feel like you’re “at home”? In a forest glade? At a woman’s conference? At your home church? Home is such a fraught concept. Both positively and negatively, it reminds us of the ease, comfort, and personal acceptance we long for and sometimes find. We want to belong, to feel relaxed, to feel like ourselves in these places.
Feeling at home tells us who our tribe is and what gives us that easy feeling of contentment. It’s a physical relationship with a place that implies who we are. Ironically, the best word for all of this is foreign. Hygge is a Danish (or Norwegian) word that defines the mood of coziness when we’re enjoying good company. When we feel hygge, we’re feeling comfort and contentment.
There are several places where I feel instantly at home. On an Adirondack forest trail in Upstate New York (where I was born and raised), I feel a part of the woods. The humidity is right, the greenness vivid, and the pine trees give off a resinous smell that defines the comfort and joy of summer. I love spending time in the woods here in Wisconsin, but it never has quite the same feel of home.
From the very beginning of my first meeting as a part of the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology, I felt that I was surrounded by like-minded women. Intellectually, I knew I had come home. Here were women who enjoyed learning about historical and contemporary goddesses as much as I did.
And when my atheist husband Mark and I walked into First Unitarian Society over 30 years ago, we immediately knew it was our spiritual home. Scotty Meek, the interim minister at the time, welcomed “the atheists and theists among us.” And said, “We don’t know whether there is a God or not, but if there is, She’s probably smiling down on us.” I turned to Mark and said, “I think we’ll feel comfortable here.” And that has certainly turned out to be true.
First Unitarian Society is my community. I know a lot of people there, and love almost all of them. In an earlier post, I described how I adopted a Unitarian Universalist (UU) mom at First Unitarian, a feisty older woman, who single-handedly changed our “bond of union” so that it used gender-inclusive language. In fact, it was the strong-minded older women in the congregation who attracted me in the first place. But like any family, I turned out to be too New Age for some of them.
Our former minister, Michael Schuler, was a friend. Kelly Crocker, our minister of Congregational Life, continues to be a friend. I’ve taught classes with her, and really enjoy her sense of humor and her ability to structure and organize. I sing in the choir as well, and love many of the people who sing with me. And both Mark and I enjoy the spiritual book group that meets once a month. We read widely about religions around the world as well as various spiritual topics, and have deep discussions. I’ve also offered many workshops at First Unitarian – most recently about divination – workshops that the members of First Unitarian Society have really enjoyed. I feel like I can “be of use” here, and that satisfies a part of my purpose in life.
Where do you feel at home? Let me know in the comments section.