I love Claire Dunn’s post today, not least because she highlights the truth about home being about people more than places. A poignant reminder to ponder in days of uncertainty.
Home. Now there’s a funny thing. It’s a word we use with abandon – ‘no place like home’, ‘home is where the heart is’, ‘home-from-home’ – and home is something we tend to take for granted without thinking about it too much.
As the offspring of an RAF pilot, I had many homes when growing up. Until the age of eleven, we moved every two and a half years. No sooner had I settled in one house, than my mother would be up to her elbows in newspaper, wrapping up our world to move to the next. As a child, I had no say in the matter, of course, I just went with the flow. My family was my home and my world, and I moved with it.
But as a young teen, I became more aware of myself in relation to the world around me – the people, the places, the things – and a growing realisation that I belonged… nowhere. History has always been important to me, perhaps because I felt I had none myself, and a knowledge of the past helped me feel rooted. I searched for meaning, for something to help me feel anchored. At first it was my grandparents’ house in Stamford, and the long history that tied our family to the area. I dreaded the time when we might no longer have any links there, spending hours fretting over the future. And then, one day, my grandmother died, the house was sold, and the last cord that gave me some semblance of stability – of identity – vanished. I felt bereft, displaced, lost.
I turned next to a small and insignificant village in North Cornwall – somewhere generations of my extended family had visited for nearly a hundred years and where I went as often as school holidays allowed. There, I spent happy weeks with my family, my cousins, and cousins of cousins, knowing every tree bent by the sea wind, every rock and every pool. The people in the local town became friends, and I felt more rooted there than anywhere else in the country. Oh, how important it is to be able to identify with a culture, to be able to say you come from somewhere – to belong.
But, as I attained adulthood and had my own family, I came to realise that vital though roots are, I needed more to grow. I had become a Christian at the age of eighteen, and felt free for the first time in my life knowing that I had a home in Christ. It wasn’t as simple as that, of course – life didn’t suddenly become easier, but He became my bedrock and helped me change my perspective on life.
I still have a yearning to belong somewhere – to a place, a time, a thing – but it isn’t overwhelming. Instead I treasure the memories I have with my family and the new ones we forge. This is what matters – the history we create. We have a shared history that will continue long after I’m gone and as such, I will always belong.
Writing as CF Dunn, Claire Dunn is a Christian novelist writing historical and contemporary suspense fiction for the general market. Her debut novel Mortal Fire – published by Lion Fiction – won the gold medal for adult romance in the Book Of The Year Awards, 2012, and was nominated for Best Novel by CRT in the same year.
Alongside her first loves of family, history and writing, CF Dunn is passionate about the education and welfare of children with dyslexia, autism and communication difficulties, and runs a special needs school, which she founded in Kent with her husband.
Book four – Realm of Darkness – was recently released in the UK, and The Secret Of The Journal series comes to a heart-stopping conclusion with the publication of book five, Fearful Symmetry, this September.