31 January 2012


When Julia travels to Burma to search for her missing lawyer father, she discovers much more than she expected. Join From Left to Write on February 1 as we discuss The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker. As a member of From Left to Write, I received a copy of the book. All opinions are my own.


Four little letters, one short syllable. So heavy with layers of meaning. 

There is a part in this beautifully told story where Tin Win goes to a monastery as a young man who has lost his sight. I am not blind, and cannot fathom what it would be like to lose my sight. To lose the primary way I engage with and experience the world. I can't imagine how frightened and out of sorts I would feel, even in my own comfort zone, my home. But I know very well the layout and the design of the rooms and hallways within these four walls, and I could navigate it in the dark if I needed to. Home is, and is meant to be, our safe place, our soft place to fall. 

For Tin Win, he experiences a different kind of home when he arrives at the monastery. He has never been there before and it is all unfamiliar territory to him, and yet he feels peaceful, as if he is at home. 
There have been relatively few times in my life when I have felt that deep peace of coming home, when I was most definitely not at the house where I reside, and most definitely not in familiar territory.

I felt that way the first time I attended the church that spoke directly to my soul. I was not raised in this church or with the beliefs or traditions of this church. And yet, the first time I sat in the pews and really absorbed the message, I knew. I'm an academic; I need to know the why's and wherefore's of things. I need to see the proof and examine the sources and analyze the credibility of the argument and the premise upon which it is based. And yet, I can't do that when pressed about my faith. 

Because I didn't choose my faith after careful consideration of all the options and a thorough analysis. I just came home. 

I felt that way when I met the man who would become my husband. I didn't try to flirt like crazy with him, or impress him with how cute and clever I was. He didn't wait any certain number of days to call me after he asked for my phone number, and he didn't waste time acting disinterested to see how hard I would chase him. We skipped over the initial, sometimes awkward, dating rituals and mating dances. I just knew about him. 

I didn't choose my husband because he adhered to a list of do's and don't's or because he met a list of criteria. I just came home. 
Home, to me, is not about a nice three car garage on a wooded cul de sac. It's not about four bedrooms in a nice suburb. It's not about Home is about peace. Home is about feeling safe. Home is about acceptance and love and comfort. Home is about belonging somewhere, belonging to someone. 

What makes you feel at home?


Lisa Hanneman said...

This is a really lovely post. I totally agree. That's how things were with my husband when we first met. I also have found that with some of my closest, most beloved friends. Even if we don't see each other for a while, it always feels like we're home when we're back together.

Neena said...

I realized recently that the house my husband and kids live in is the longest I've lived anywhere. We always moved when I was a child so I always had the urge to relocate about every 3 years. We've been in this house almost 7...and I finally feel the meaning of "home"

Janin Wise said...

I agree. Home is where we are absolutely free to trust. To know that we can be ourselves-- and still be loved. And to know we can give our love in kind. Thank you for sharing this!

Bren said...

Having never lived in the same house for more than a year until I was 26 years old, I am totally with you that home is where you find peace and security!

Sendker said...

What makes you feel at home? Very good question!
In my case: Home is were my heart is. My friends. My loved ones. Home is not a location for me. I was born in Hamburg, Germany, and I really like to go back because I have so many memories but is it home? No. Memories are not home.
So what makes you feel at home?
I guess the love of the people you feel close to.
Thanks for reading my book "The Art of Hearing Heartbeats.
Jan-Philipp Sendker