The House of Belonging

What is home?

Clearly it’s a place. A spot on the map. The door opening. A warm bed. Somewhere we can retreat to and find sanctuary.

For some, of course, home is meant to be left, gotten away from. As soon as possible. A repository of pain and difficult times.

But whatever our first experiences of home, we all are called in adulthood to construct a home in the world.

Yet, what is that, really?

Poet and author David Whyte writes:

This is the bright home
in which I live,
this is where
I ask
my friends
to come,
this is where I want
to love all the things
it has taken me so long
to learn to love.

This is the temple
of my adult aloneness
and I belong
to that aloneness
as I belong to my life.

There is no house
like the house of belonging.

Whyte implies that home is more than just a place to hang our hats. It’s as much inside of us as outside in the world.

For several years, I’ve been bewitched by the paradox of home.

And somewhere inside of myself I knew that my recurring dreams about houses, my yearning to return to my roots, my image of a cottage near deep blue ocean and towering redwoods, all of it, was about more than just the outer world.

It was inner. It was me. My deep waters. My essence. My core.

Finding the depth of the ocean and the roots of the redwood tree inside of myself. Coming back to my own house of belonging.

So during this week of Thanksgiving when many are making their way home, or welcoming others into their homes, I thought it fitting to ask:

What is your own house of belonging?

It doesn’t matter if it’s outer or inner, real or imagined, actual or symbolic. Share it with us and we’ll all be nourished by each other’s stories of home. 

And by the way, I want to give thanks to you, for stopping by this little online home of mine. In your honor, I raise my glass. In fact, let’s all raise our imaginary glasses together.


30 thoughts on “The House of Belonging

  1. Hi Patty
    Thanks for your welcome, your thanks and having us raise our glasses together. Cheers!

    I make my home whereever I am and I take the place I live always serious.
    For me it is a place of love, a place of honoring what I have and I do that by creating beauty.
    Even in a hotel room I try to make it a personal space.

    I want people to feel love and by loving the place I am in, I am love in action.
    When I did not have a garden I put up a big nature poster that covered a wall and I had a forest of house plants.
    My house shows my dreams.

    Have a great thanksgiving, love Wilma

  2. Hi Patty! Cheers to you too – and thanks for being a blog buddy!

    What a beautiful poem! The house of my belonging is in my heart, soul and mind. The physical home where I live is precious because it is the physical manifestation of love, the treasures of love and meaningful moments I’ve had on this journey. If I lost it all on the physical level, I could re-create it all from my heart – bloom where you are planted sort of thing.

    Belonging – wow – a subject I found elusive for decades. I was adopted – didn’t feel like I belonged. I found my birth family at 20 – didn’t feel like I belonged there either! It took me til my 30’s and meeting hubs, really experiencing love until I felt I belonged anywhere. It’s lovely!

    Have a peaceful and blessed Thanksgiving!

    • Hi SuZen – How lovely to know that your heart, soul, and mind are your place of belonging. And you manifest that in your physical home. Perfect blend of inner and outer. Thank you.

  3. I like Wilma’s idea of making home where ever I am. When I travel I rarely take the time to make the space my own. That would make traveling even more comfortable.

    My own home is my sanctuary. No matter what goes on outside, I feel peace and comfort at home. I suppose that mimics my internal philosophy as well.

  4. Thanks for sharing the poem, and the thoughts on home, here is another glass raised with yours Cheers all.

    I have been thinking a lot about home of late myself as I have begone a personnel journey to look for permanence and stability and a place I can call home once and for all. An importation part of home are to me are the people with whom we share our lives, in person and electronically. It is a place we bring our friends and can show off a bit of who we are and learn from what they leave behind.

    • Hi Quinn – Welcome, thanks for visiting. I can tell you’re on a quest to find what you need from home. And I agree with that those with whom we share our lives are pivotal to our sense of belonging, both inner and outer. I appreciate your comment.

  5. Hello there Patty
    Home …huum this has been a huge question for me for the past 10 years. I left Ireland in 2000 to live in New Zealand. And for a long time I referred to Ireland as home, it congured up thoughts of belonging and as a result I struggled living in New Zealand.
    It eventually dawned on me that I was confusing home with community and that I was living in the past and totally missing the present… I was missing out on MY life.

    I have created home for me. It is within me and I can take it where ever I go, New Zealand, Ireland or anywhere else in the world. Home is ME; it is loving, it is being true to self, it is sharing with others, it is warm and it is safe.

    Happy Thanksgiving Patty and cheers to you!
    Hugs Ann-Marie

    • Hi Ann-Marie – Welcome, so nice to see you here. How well you say it…confusing home with community. I think I’ve been there too. And how profound to realize that you were missing out on your life. It’s inspiring to hear your story and the transformation. Thank you.

  6. Hi Patty, I have mixed feelings about home. I love the home I’ve built with my boys (son and husband) and wherever we are together always feels like home. I happen to have a lot of extended family in the area and as the saying goes, the more the merrier. And yet the very exclusivity of home, of keeping it all in the family or even extending it to a wider circle of friends, makes me think of those who are left out; who truly don’t have a home. I’ve felt this way for a while about and it’s particularly acute around the holidays. It doesn’t help that we have a homelessness issue in SF…

    But I am grateful for the home that I have and all its beauty. And I want to thank you for always making me feel welcome in your online home. Have a lovely thanksgiving!

    • Thank you, Belinda. It’s so nice to be able to welcome you and all of these wonderful people. I wish I could throw open the doors and see you all in person!

      It’s interesting what you say about homelessness. I had a dream where homeless people were living in my house when I wasn’t there, and I was okay with it. The dream made me realize how much so many of us have and how much could be shared. Of course I know that the dream was about me at a deeper level, but I thought this was telling for me, both inner and outer.

  7. Lovely post, photo, and poem, Patty. Thanks! Just posted a beautiful song on my blog yesterday by Chantal Krevizuk, “Feels Like Home.” The melody is so sweet and the words wonderful. “Home is where the heart is.”

    “Feels Like Home”

    Somethin’ in your eyes, makes me wanna lose myself
    Makes me wanna lose myself, in your arms
    There’s somethin’ in your voice, makes my heart beat fast
    Hope this feeling lasts, the rest of my life

    If you knew how lonely my life has been
    And how long I’ve been so alone
    And if you knew how I wanted someone to come along
    And change my life the way you’ve done

    It feels like home to me, it feels like home to me
    It feels like I’m all the way back where I come from
    It feels like home to me, it feels like home to me
    It feels like I’m all the way back where I belong

    A window breaks, down a long, dark street
    And a siren wails in the night
    But I’m alright, ’cause I have you here with me
    And I can almost see, through the dark there is light

    Well, if you knew how much this moment means to me
    And how long I’ve waited for your touch
    And if you knew how happy you are making me
    I never thought that I’d love anyone so much

    It feels like home to me, it feels like home to me
    It feels like I’m all the way the back where I come from
    It feels like home to me, it feels like home to me
    It feels like I’m all the way back where I belong
    It feels like I’m all the way back where I belong

    • Wow, thank you Judith for sharing that. What a beautiful way to express other ways we come home to ourselves. I will come by and check out the song!

  8. No matter where I am, no matter where I go, I carry my home with me. It is lush with love, peace and harmony; it is also crowded with sadness, pain and struggle. However, it is always nourished with understanding, wisdom and happiness. Such is my home which is my heart. 🙂

    • Beautiful expression of your home, Walter. And so nice to see you over here. You embrace the full meaning of home with your words, both the light and dark. Thank you.

  9. What an incredibly thought provoking post. Your photo of the cottage was my answer to what home is, comfort and beauty but when I am not home I live by Wilma’s philosophy.

    My home is my sanctuary where I feel safe and whole and house my life long collected treasures which keep me company throughout the day.

    Even with three wild boys running all around me, my home is where I run to, to find peace, solace and….my computer for turning my brain inside out with my writing.

    Glad to find you!

    • Hi Jillian – Welcome, so glad you stopped in! Your home sounds like a place at once vibrant and calming. A place of wholeness. You paint a very delightful and compelling word picture of it. Thank you!

  10. I’m “homeless” but sometime you have to live in the desert. And when you’re home is nowhere it’s also in some sense anywhere or everywhere.

    Had a dream that has always stayed with me. It was maybe a year and a half into what I had no idea, back then, would turn out to be a progressive incurable illness that would leave me housebound and at this point mostly bedridden and in widespread intractable pain – at least I had no idea consciously …

    In the dream I was walking on a dirt path with family members toward a lone house that stood on a forested lake front. The lake was beautifully placid, almost like glass. But the house overlooking it had been completely boarded up.

    I felt a strong identity with both house and lake – the house was clearly me and that lake was how my life had been going up until then.

    Then I disappeared from the path and was aware of birds scattered in the surrounding bushes and trees. I felt a strong sense of identity with them – it pretty much felt as if I’d turned into them – as my family continued walking toward the lake.

    • Thanks, Paul, for sharing that profound dream. I’ve been studying dream work with Michael Conforti, who focuses on dream translation rather than interpretation. The archetypal translation of a boarded up house is a place where no one lives, abandoned, which might sound desolate. And yet, you have the birds, scattering, flying. So maybe that dream was your unconscious telling you that your physical body was about to abandon you, but in spite of that you would soar in other ways. Does that resonate at all? (I’m certainly no expert, though.)

  11. I think it’s important that home feels good, whether it’s in an RV or in a house. For me, that means the neighborhood and the general ambiance have to feel good too. It even means the weather.

    I think it’s important that home is a shelter – at the physical, emotional, and intellectual levels. It’s a place to nest and a place to recharge.

    • Hi J.D. – Welcome! So glad you stopped by to join the conversation. I like how you expand the notion of shelter to include emotional and physical needs. Thanks much for the comment.

  12. Dear Patty,

    I found you through Megan and I just love what I’ve read. Beautiful and soothing to my soul.

    Home for me is the Love I commune with. I experience it particularly strongly in nature, but it’s really something I live with every single day no matter where I am. I’ve become it.

    Years ago when I lived in the Australian rainforest I fell deeply in love with this great expanse of Nothingness. For the first time in my life I truly, deeply knew what “going home” meant. What I had once feared (the Nothingness, just being, living with no purpose, letting go, what I thought was emptiness) I found to be an infinitely compassionate and loving existence or being. I suppose some people might call it god. I didn’t as I had no need to call it anything. I simply communed with it.

    The more I moved toward the unknown the closer I got to this vast expanse of Nothingness and complete and utter love…..and compassion so tender it still brings me to tears to feel it. For me being in communion with this love is my home.

    And of course I have a wonderful home in my husband, my friends and family and Mother Earth.

    Thank you dear Patty.
    Hugs to you.

    • Hi Robin – It’s a pleasure to meet you and I’m delighted you dropped by to share your story of home! It’s beautiful. When I read, “I fell deeply in love with this great expanse of nothingness” I got a little goose bumpy. You say it so well. In your words I hear an echo of a verse from David Whyte’s poem: “the temple of my adult aloneness.” And what a joy to hear the spirit and compassion of that place of love. Thanks much for the comment, and your very kind words.

  13. Hi Patty,

    I love the photo of the cottage. I can envision myself living there. I also like your idea of a cottage near the ocean.

    To quote an old saying, to me “home is where the heart is”. Having moved so many times in my life, I realized it’s not necessarily the “shell” that makes a home, but the people who live there.

    Cheers to you, too. 🙂

    • Hi Barbara – I like your differentiation between the shell and what’s inside. It’s a nice way of redefining home. Thanks much for your comment.

  14. Patty — I think of my current house when I think of home. It has seen me go through so many things like becoming a parent, my divorce, learning to live by myself and rediscovering companionship and love. I have known it since it was first built and it has grown older with me. Both of us are beginning to show our age:~)

    I know that this home is just a place, but strange as it may seem, it also feels like a friend to me.

    • Hi Sara – Sounds like you and your home have quite a bond! And it doesn’t seem strange to me at all that you recognize it as a friend. I think it’s so important to have those things that are markers in our lives, that remind us of where we have been and who we have become. They add to the depth of our lives. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

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