There’s a story I’ve always loved.
It’s about an old woman, Mrs. Watts, who yearns to go home, back to the farm where generations of her family lived and worked.
Her ache to return is so deep, her longing so pure, that it continually occupies her thoughts and dreams.
Again and again, she plans and schemes and attempts it, only to be thwarted by her son and his wife.
But she persists and one day breaks away from them. Then, when she is oh so close, just miles away, her luck seems to run out. She’s near collapse, and her plea is heart-rending…
“Let me go those 12 miles, before it’s too late…I want to go home. I want to go home. I want to go home.”
And home she goes. Finally.
Maybe the part I love most about the story is that when she makes it back, it isn’t anything like she remembered. The house is a wreck. The fields are fallow. The town is deserted. Her last friend died the day before.
You’d think she’d be crushed, but she’s not. Instead, she finds nourishment beyond the ruin of her old life:
“Pretty soon it’ll all be gone. Ten years…twenty…this house…me…you. But the river will be here. The fields. The woods. The smell of the Gulf. That’s what I always took my strength from…Not from houses, not from people…It’s so quiet. It’s so eternally quiet. I had forgotten the peace. The quiet. And it’s given me strength once more…To go on and do what I have to do. I’ve found my dignity and my strength.”
Underneath the decaying surface and structure of her old life, she rediscovers her essence, her quiet knowing. The part of her that was there all along. The part of her that can’t be taken away.
Of course, I don’t know if the author, Horton Foote, had this in mind when he wrote the play. It doesn’t much matter, though.
Whatever his intention, it’s a breathtaking metaphor for how we get lost and have to make our way back to ourselves. How the journey might be dark at times but we push through anyway. And how even if we find something radically different than we expected, we usually end up getting what we need.
I have a hunch Horton Foote knew something about all this. After all, he named his play The Trip to Bountiful. And truly, bountiful is in the eyes, and experience, of the beholder.
Lately I’ve been thinking about how I’ve kind of experienced my own version of the trip to bountiful right here at Living Deep Studio.
I don’t mean that I’ve struggled the way that Mrs. Watts did. But as I look back on six years of writing here (with a 16-month hiatus in the middle) and 200 posts published, I see clearly that all along I’ve been making my way through my own homecoming.
I’ve been learning to embrace it in all its different shapes and colors. And I’ve come to acknowledge that this homecoming process is a deep and vital part of my work with women.
So I guess it’s not too surprising that the theme–coming home to ourselves–has been winding its way through my writing since the early days. It’s become a rallying cry and even a tag line of sorts:
Come home to your deepest wisdom.
I look around these days and see how the mantra of coming home to ourselves has taken hold and I sometimes wonder if maybe it’s time to retire my use of it. But then I think no, it’s good that so many women are saying it.
We need to keep the longing alive, just like Mrs. Watts did.
We need to remember that so much of what we’re searching for is already within us.
We need to accept that we won’t fully grasp this until we leave our metaphorical (and sometimes real) homes and go away from ourselves.
It really is the perfect irony: you can’t come home to yourself unless you leave first.
There’s another delicious irony here for me. Just as I’m celebrating six years and 200 posts, I’ve decided to take another blogging hiatus. Why? Because I want to concentrate all my energy right now on packing up and selling the home I’ve lived in for 20 years so I can follow the call of my little home in Sonoma County, my true place in the world. (For my Sacramento clients: don’t worry, I’ll still be in Sac a few days each week.)
So here I am again, leaving home in order to come home. The serendipity of it all simply amazes me.
I’m not sure how long I’ll be gone yet. Certainly not 16 months like the last hiatus. For the interim I’ve gathered up some favorite posts about home, inner and outer. Enjoy at your leisure.
Going Home: Retracing My Steps
Coming Home: The Ritual of Return
Celebrating Myself Home With An Art Journal
If you’d like to stay connected while I’m away, by all means join my circle by subscribing to my e-letter. You’ll hear from me about once a month, and in the coming months I’m planning to write about relationships, untold stories, filling the well and perfection. There will also be some guided meditations just for subscribers.