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Home Squared

I have just finished reading Barack Obama’s “Dreams From My Father”.  There is so much to think about and I’ll probably come back to it a few times.  But here is one thing that’s kind of stuck with me and that I have been mulling over. 

When he goes to Kenya to explore his roots there, some of the family take him back to the village the Obamas came from.  This is what they explain along the way:

“By the way,” Roy said to me, lighting a cigarette, “it’s not Home Square.  It’s Home Squared.”  “What does that mean?” “It’s something the kids in Nairobi used to say,” Auma explained “there’s your ordinary house in Nairobi.  And then there’s your house in the country, where your people come from.  Your ancestral home.  Even the biggest minister of businessman thinks this way.  He may have mansion in Nairobi and build only a small hut in the country.  He may go there only once or twice a year.  But if you ask him where he is from, he will tell you that that hut is his true home.  So, when we were at school and wanted to tell somebody we were going to Alego, it was home twice over, you see.  Home Squared.”  Roy took a sip of his beer.  “For you, Barack, we can call it Home Cubed.”

I felt a sense of longing and slight envy when I read that.  I feel more like I have just added new homes to old ones. They’re all different and special but there is none that is a solid foundation.  I go back to Hamburg, where I grew up, and I love it.  There are a lot of memories.  But I now have very few firneds there.  When my parents don’t live there anymore, will it still feel like home at all?

I go back to where I went to uni and again, almost every road holds memories.  What a significant time it was! 

But in both places I am only a visitor.

Birmingham is now home.  I know where things are, I know lots of people, I (sort of) know where I “fit” in many situations.  But roots?  Not really.

Where is my Home Squared?  Or Cubed? 

I’m beginning to think that is how it should be!  After all, all the amazing people in Hebrews 11 “were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland.”  (Hebrews 11:16)  And my “citizenship is in heaven.” (Philippians 3:20) 

That’s where I really belong, Home with a capital “H”!  And what an amazing blessing it is to have lots of other homes as well!

Maybe things only get confusing when I try and find my Home in a place that can only ever be a home.

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Ain’t Mine No More

I’m not normally a big fan of Neil Diamond but this song really captures where I’m at just now:

“Well, I’m New York City born and raised

But nowadays, I’m lost between two shores

LA’s fine, but it ain’t home

New York’s home but it ain’t mine no more”

Having spent the last 14 years living outside my home culture and absolutely loving it, I’m now at a point of trying to figure out how the different strands in my life make a whole, of how all the colourful fragments come together to form a beautiful mosaic.