What does it mean to be at home?
In the best of all worlds, it would mean we are among beloved family and friends, safe from intrusion, comfortable and well supplied with the necessities of life — and this place remains available to us from year to year, age to age, with a welcome on each return and we drop our cares on the doorstep.
When I first encountered the Goddess in the Sacred Grove, the Priest knelt before Her in praise and adoration. I threw myself into Her lap and said, “Hi, Mom! I’m home!”
In our spiritual lives, we can find ourselves at home in sacred space, surrounded by those with whom we journey, with and without bodies — whether friends at a distance, loved ones across the Veil, or Deity. The Sacred Grove welcomes all friendly spirits.
A Quaker Experience
John Greenleaf Whittier found himself at home in Meeting for Worship after the manner of Friends (Quakers), where the entire ritual plan is to sit in silence unless moved by Deity to speak. In his poem The Meeting, he wrote,
And so I find it well to come
For deeper rest to this still room,
For here the habit of the soul
Feels less the outer world’s control;
The strength of mutual purpose pleads
More earnestly our common needs;
And from the silence multiplied
By these still forms on either side,
The world that time and sense have known
Falls off and leaves us God alone.
At home, we are safe enough to relax our normal vigilance, to turn our attention away from our familiar surroundings and company, to let the world of spirit come most brilliantly to our attention, to listen and speak within and from our innermost being, knowing we are loved and accepted as we are.
We are wondrously made. When we are grounded, centered, and feeling as safe as if we were at home (or in the best memories of home as we wish it were), we can relax. When we can drop our customary vigilance safely and trust the universe to take care of us, even for a moment, our bodies begin to heal — just a little — from the stresses of daily life.
At Home in the Grove
Our ritual practice — the trance journeys and pathways, in particular — help us build an internal reality of a spiritual home to which we can retire at will. The Sacred Grove is the rites by which we seek the immanent Presence of Deity, the loved and trusted friends with whom we journey, and the place between the worlds where we meet with Them. On the way or in the Presence, we are at home.
In those moments, we can release our thoughts and allow our attention to open to the sights and sounds of our inner world where the quiet voices of the Lord and Lady can be heard — where we can know what is true, what is real, what is important, and possibly what it all means.
The concept of at home is more completely developed in an essay on chaplaincy posted here.