“There’s No Place Like Home” – A New Series

No Place Like HomeWhen Nicholas and I first married, and I moved to the UK, we decided to call wherever we were living “home.” We knew that words bind up reality, so we wanted to embrace with our lingo the new truth in our lives. This would prove harder for me, of course, being the one to leave family, friends, wide highways, and good plumbing, and if we were having a spat we wanted to curtail any reckless words such as, “I want to go home!” For I was at home.

But though we were intentional, early on in our life in the UK I often felt homeless, partly because we knew we’d only live for a few months at Ridley Hall in Cambridge where Nicholas was training for ordained ministry. Then his first curacy descended into upheaval not long after we arrived when the vicar was signed off sick, so the question of whether we’d stay or go seemed to cling to us, keeping us from settling. We moved after only two years, to another curacy, which again felt transient as we stayed there another two years for Nicholas to finish his apprenticeship period. Home was where we lived, but rooted we were not. Only when we landed in our first vicarage, having our first child a month later, were we able to settle in and breathe.

Embracing a concept of home – though we took a few years to reach this place physically – helped us to create a space for loving, thriving, and resting. A place to be; a place to relax; a place to create; a place to welcome others. For Nicholas this sense of home was redemptive, for he had moved around so much in his life, such as going to boarding school at the age of eight, and later, when he went to theological college (US: seminary) in his thirties, selling his flat and therefore in a sense being homeless during that three-year period (and finding being booted out of college during the summer holidays particularly hard).

So home is something we’ve tried to foster, and the addition of children has been a wonderful blessing and joy to vicarage life. This drafty Victorian spacious place with its high ceilings, sinks with their single faucets (UK: basins with taps) in several of the bedrooms, and condensation-forming sash windows has provided the backdrop to their lives. But of course home means so much more than the physical structure; it’s the people and the customs and rituals that we practice throughout the seasons that bring meaning and fulfillment.

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I’m delighted to kick off this series, “There’s No Place Like Home,” which will run at least through the Spring of next year, as I’ve had a humbling and wonderful response from fellow writers and makers-of-home. The blog posts will appear on Fridays, all exploring different aspects of home. Next week we look at the crisis of homelessness from the renowned thinker Os Guinness, and in the weeks following we will experience so many riches including novelists Rachel Hauck, Sharon Brown, and Katharine Swartz; bloggers Ben Irwin, Tanya Marlow, Amy Young, and Tania Vaughan; and authors addressing issues in the Christian life such as Cathy Madavan, Bev Murrill, Sheridan Voysey, Penelope Swithinbank, and Catherine Campbell. As a VW (vicar’s wife), I don’t think of myself only with that label, but no doubt being married to pastors and ministers will inform the thoughts of Amy Robinson, Debbie Duncan, and Claire Musters. And this is only a taste of the glories to come! Yes, I’m excited!

To launch the series, I’m delighted to give away two copies of Finding Myself in Britain, including recipe cards – and I won’t limit the giveaway to the UK either, so wherever you live, please enter. To do so, share in the comments what home means to you. You can wax lyrical or jot down a word or two. I’ll choose the winners on 27 November – yes, otherwise known as Black Friday. It will be lovely to give away my book-baby on that day of consuming.

Is it true for you that “There’s No Place Like Home”?

20 Responses

  1. Oh, this sounds like a great series to be launching! I think about this theme a LOT. I grew up in just one place, but my adult life has included nine different locations so far. We just arrived in London, and it’s the first time since we married that my husband and I have lived in either of our home countries (it’s mine – he’s Danish). But Peckham is a thousand worlds from rural Oxfordshire! And not knowing how long we’ll be here, it’s hard to feel rooted (like you expressed).
    I have an art print up in our hallway with the lyrics of that amazing song, “home is whenever I’m with you”, and that has become a big part of it’s meaning for me – the place where I’m with the people I love, who make me feel secure and give me courage to live my best life. And with that definition, I am lucky to have so many homes!

    1. Wow Fiona – that’s a lot of moving! And you must have such an interesting family life with the British/Danish mix. Would be fun to chat over a cuppa! I hope you can settle in well and make friends quickly. How wonderful to have the multiculturalism in Peckham; we love that in Finchley!

  2. We lived in a college town in Michigan for my first three years as an undergrad. Then my family moved back to Wisconsin, and I was in Michigan alone. It was difficult. I’d walk to the school’s airfield, where my dad and brother spent so much time. Or I’d go to Apple Valley Market, where Mom and I shopped together. They were gone, and it was unsettling. Home wasn’t home anymore.

  3. Amy, I am really looking forward to this series. It will be interesting to see what different people think of home. We moved a few times in my first three years of life. Then we stayed in FL, where I grew up. In my married life we moved a lot the first few years, stayed put for awhile a couple of times before moving to SC where we have been for over 17 yrs. So for us, home was wherever we found ourselves at any given time. I would love to win a book and recipe cards! Oh, and my husband loves your book cover design!

    1. Thanks Gayl, especially on the cover design from your husband! I love it too, and have partially blogged about the process but need to finish up the story. Home being where we find ourselves – a great definition.

  4. Home. The place where you can relax and be yourself. But that might not be an actual home but a state of mind. At least that is the way I see it as my ‘home’ is full of chaos and personalities. So many needs to be fulfilled from the cat to teenagers as well as my soul mate. If home conjures up activity galore then my secret place that I call ‘home’ needs to be calming, uncluttered and all embracing so that I can sink into the hug of relaxation. Therefore without a doubt, home is my bath.

  5. Jean Vann

    Interesting this as home is where God places you and I think that MAY be different from “feeling at home” . I love that chorus “This world is not my home I’m just a travellin through” Heaven must in the end be our “home”. So in that few weeks or the last move it was months, of panic that you feel when you first move, I kept telling myself God has sent you here so it HAS to be home. Why I was so scared i do not know? Maybe because we moved without the “anchor” of a job to hang on. I remember a good church man saying to me “Welcome to your home” at church and that meant a lot. Now I cant go to my church cos of reactions to perfume but my rolling Welsh hills do feel like home. I went back this last week to Snowdonia and that was also like coming home as that is fixed in my mind. But yes I am home now in Wales..

  6. For me, it’s simple: home is where my boat is. We (that’s Sue, my wife, and I) lived on her (no doubt about it: boats are female) for our first 12 years together, through theological college and even Sue’s first curacy.

    Alas, Sue going a-vicaring meant abandoning ship to the nearest marina, which hasn’t always been conveniently located — but I’m delighted that’s about to change with Sue’s new job on the horizon (whaddaya mean, you hadn’t heard?? Archdeacon of Wilts, I tell ya!!!), oh yes: the Kennet & Avon canal runs by but 100 yards from the Archdeacon’s house. Happy, happy, happy (dances off to the ‘Post Comment’ button).

    1. Phil, I meant to say that’s fantastic news about Sue’s job, and it’s that just amazing and wonderful for you to have such easy access for your boat – hooray! If you both have the same day off you’ll be able to launch quickly into another world, which is what I’m guessing you’ll both need…

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