by Sheila O'Handley
Upon returning from a trip, whether short or extended, who among us have not said, “oh, It Is so good to be home.” There is something profound in that saying, as there is also, in the expression, “There’s no place like home.” The word home surely means different things to different people, just as experiences of coming home feel different to different people and feel different at different times during life’s journey. The experience of home and of home coming we can relate to, simply because they are spiritual archetypes of being human. They also have had an important place in mythology, psychology, history, religion, politics, art and literature.
If we were to push the metaphor of home and home-coming a little further, maybe quite a distance, and ask, what the homing signals of the soul might be, what would they look like, and feel like? What might the return to the emotional and spiritual aspects of the soul/self look like? What would the inner voice sound like if you decided to listen and what would you speak to your inner self? How would you remember, and what would you remember in the return to your soul’s home, your authentic self?
The homing signal of inner quiet, where one experiences a dis- ease, not unlike the experience of home sickness, a longing and nostalgia. What is this dis-quiet really saying, what is it about? Often it is prodding us to be real, not who we think we are, and not who others expect or demand us to be. Times of dis-ease often feel like breakdown, and maybe that also has to happen. Breakdowns are in reality breakthroughs. We discover that the old ways of doing things, of perceiving who we are and in the world, no longer work. What is attempting to be born in the breakthrough is a return to the soul’s home.
Leaving is yet another homing signal. It might be leaving the wasteland of addiction, whatever that might be. Leaving an abusive relationship. Letting go of old habits, beliefs, and attitudes that are no longer useful nor life giving. This homing signal feels like abandonment, falling apart, emptiness, lost, you name it, we all have been there. It signals time for clearing house, assisting one to stand on the edge of a new way of being that is so much more than previously imagined, and poses the question: ‘Have I got the courage to be, to solitarily stand on my own two feet?’
The self as home also contains those parts of us that Karl Jung referred to as ‘the shadow’. Those parts of who we are, the positive and the negative, the light and the dark which have been consigned to the unconscious, these aspects of ourselves, in some cases, are gold nuggets. The homing signal of reconciling these parts of us call forth from each of us the releasing, refining and befriending the totality of who we are. In essence this homing signal of reconciling is the living of the moral and ethical life. It requires a life time of attending to this aspect of coming home to the soul.
Finally, the reality of a possible life- threatening disease or impending death signals the longest stride of the soul we ever embark upon. We hone in on the meaningfulness of life. What has my life been, for whom, for what ? Am I reconciled with all that has been both within and without, and all that will be in the leaving of the home of my physical existence. We all will be faced with this homing signal, no one escapes. It is in choosing to live this homing reality that we come to accept, or not, the realization that we are made of spiritual energy, in unity with all, and finally at home with self, others and the Divine. It is the stuff of which we are made. It was from this point of home that we can say that we started and it is at this point that we end up at home. T.S. Eliot in ‘Little Gidding’ in Four Quartets says it most poignantly: “ We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
copyright 2013, Sheila O'Handley
Sheila O’Handley is a diocesan hermit living at Saint Mary’s Place of Solitude and Prayer in the Codroy Valley in the southwest of Newfoundland.