Finding a spiritual home

I’ve been thinking about the idea of home lately.

It started when I was on silent retreat last month. During retreat, I read Toko-pa Turner‘s Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home. In it, she discusses what “home” means and ways to be at home with yourself.

"Affection Appreciation Art" by Carl Attard (CC)

“Affection Appreciation Art” by Carl Attard (CC)

She suggests that her readers keep a gratitude journal, so I started a journal on Sunday, October 28. Every night I list five things I’m grateful for that day. Looking back at the entries this past month, I’ve been surprised at how most of the things I’m grateful for relate to home:

  • My family and friends
  • My dog, Dory
  • My actual house
  • Clean, fresh sheets
  • My electrician who re-wired my basement so I could host more (and bigger) gatherings
  • Hosting Thanksgiving

But then, out of gratitude, another theme emerged: a spiritual home. So far this month, I’ve also been grateful for:

  • Quiet reflection alone
  • Perspective
  • Deep truths
  • Mary Magdalene
  • Ignatian principles of noticing and slowing down
  • The ability to receive and deeply trust somatic knowledge and embodied knowing

I thought about it a bit deeper. I realized that these gratitudes are part of the core of my spiritual self. Then I began to wonder, what is a spiritual home? Where is it? How is it? Why is it?

A first attempt at describing a spiritual home

A spiritual home is a space or practice in/through which you connect with yourself and the divine guides, angels, the Holy Spirit, God, or other divine beings. In many ways, it’s letting the mind step aside and listening to the inner self–to the body, to the heart, to the gut center. Just like a physical home, it needs a resident to nourish it.

In thinking about this concept, I’ve thought about what I need to remove from and welcome into my spiritual home. One thing I’ve detached from is attending mass. Although I actively attended church for decades, both Catholic and Episcopal churches, that ritual doesn’t feel like “home” anymore. I can’t just “be” during mass; I have to “do” in church. Church was always an active event when I was a kid, and even as a kid, I was frustrated that I couldn’t just sit and let my spirit connect. Maybe church will feel like home in the future, but it doesn’t right now.

So, what fits?

To date, the list includes quiet meditation, silent retreats, long walks and bike rides, and monthly meetings with my on-campus spiritual director (I’m fortunate to work at a university that has a spiritual center for faculty and staff).

St. Joseph Chapel at the School Sisters of St. Francis Motherhouse

St. Joseph Chapel at the School Sisters of St. Francis Motherhouse

I also meet regularly with my spiritual mentor and “third grandma,” Sr. Arlene. And, as an associate member of the School Sisters of St. Francis, I find solace in their historic chapel, which is filled with such good, positive, renewing energy.

These practices and people help me find my spiritual home. 

When I’m at home–physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually–my body rests and sinks into the moment. My shoulders relax. My face relaxes. I don’t feel the need to do–I can just be. I listen more. I talk less. When I do talk, I don’t feel nervous about saying something wrong or being judged. I trust that my inner self will guide me as needed. 

It’s taken years to learn how my body tells me when I’m home, and I’m definitely still working on it. As an academic, I very much struggle with shutting my mind off and tuning into my body, heart, and gut center. My mind makes me good at my job, but it strains my ability to listen to and be guided by somatic knowledge.

I guess that means I have to clean up that part of my house. But who knows what that new open space will welcome? Whatever it may be, I’ll be grateful.

Questions to ponder

  • What does “home” mean to you?
  • What is your spiritual home?
  • If you had to clean out your spiritual home, what would you remove? What would you add?
  • How often are you truly at home? How do you know?
  • Who makes you feel spiritually at home?
  • What rituals or traditions help bring you home?
  • If your spiritual home is a church, what makes that space similar to or different from a religious or faith home?



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