The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


What 'home' means

I’d boarded a flight in Cochin, India, and flew to Bombay and then on to Amsterdam and, finally, after 36 long hours—home to Chicago. I had been in India for one year, serving in the ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission program. Now I was returning home.

But even as I took in that incredible, wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime moment of setting my feet back where they belonged, I had to wonder if I really was home. I had lived in an Indian community for one year, a place I’d come to call “home.” Now that I was again on what should have been familiar soil, I started to wonder where I was. “Welcome home!” I kept hearing people say. But what, exactly, is home?

The question plagued me as I began to reacclimatize to American culture. It continues now, as I’ve resettled in a small apartment in South Florida: What is home?

Is home this apartment for which I pay so much rent, the space where I keep my belongings, the place I return to each night after a day’s work? Is Florida home?

Or is home the little house where my parents live, with the grass I used to run around on when I was a child. The church where I was baptized? Is Illinois home?

Or is home the Indian village that had a space for me to live and to learn and to grow for one beautiful year? Is home the sweet, old Indian men and women who lived across the hall from me in the retirement community where I took a room? Is home the bakery down the road where I would go for chai on Saturday mornings? Is India home?

As I continue to familiarize myself with a culture that I thought I knew and to balance the joy of being here with the pain of not being there, I wonder if I will ever truly know where my home is. Perhaps I can’t define home as a “where” or a “what.” Perhaps home is neither thing nor place but rather a notion that is built on the memories of so many things and so many places and shaped by so many people of so many times.

So what is home? Perhaps I can’t answer this because it is the wrong question. A better one might be: Who is the Great Designer of my home? Have I given thanks today for the solid foundation on which I stand, the comfort found within these walls and the great big windows out of which I can see God’s wide and wonderful world?”

This week's front page features:

Jesus & the kingdom of God: It was his passion because it is God's passion. (Image at right.)

Exchanges that keep on giving: Global relationships bring hope.

Top 10 reasons to worship this summer: Why does attendance drop?

Powerful commitment: Consultant works to bring electricity back to Iraq.

Also: Let's invest in leaders.

Also: Lutheran publications honored.

Also: Synod assemblies.

Read these articles at our front page > > >

The discussion continues:

Join Greg Mortenson (right), adventurer, humanitarian and author, to discuss building schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Mortenson is co-author of The New York Times best-seller Three Cups of Tea, which chronicles his failed attempt to reach the summit of K2, his recuperation in a Pakistani village and his subsequent promise to build the village a school. Mortenson kept his promise, raising money while living out of his car, and has since built 55 additional schools through the Central Asia Institute.

In the process, Mortenson has been kidnapped by the Taliban, had fatwahs issued against him and has received death threats from Americans who interpreted his mission as “aiding the enemy.”

The conversation runs through June 12.

Join the discussion > > >

This week on our blog:

Amber Leberman (right) blogs about the New Jersey Synod assembly.

Julie Sevig writes about a Pentecost moment and more on tending souls.

Sonia Solomonson blogs about celebrating Pentecost at her congregation.

Check out our blog > > >

Introducing The Little Lutheran:

We at The Lutheran think it’s important to nurture the faith of the little ones in our midst. We developed The Little Lutheran for toddlers age 6 and younger to help them learn about God’s love for them and the world in which they live. We want them to know Jesus as friend and savior too.

Meet The Little Lutheran > > >

Share your evangelism tips:

Reader George C. Weirick challenged the staff of The Lutheran: "Tell us about programs that work or unusual or new evangelism methods."

Send us your tips via email, with a brief description (two or three paragraphs), along with contact information for those wanting more background.

The staff reviews submissions and publishes the best as a regular item on the “Currents” pages.

Members: Respond online > > >

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February issue


Embracing diversity