“Home is where the heart is.” It’s such a well-worn expression we hardly think of what it means anymore. Some say that Pliny the Elder was the first to utter these words nearly 2,000 years ago, and that when he did he said “hearth,” not “heart.” But no matter. The two are one in the same to me.
In the summer months my heart and hearth are in Montana. At the northern edge of our Un-tied States, Mother Nature serves up a magical platter of confections: wildflower bonbons, marshmallow mountains, forest floor mushrooms, and butterfly dust. Every day I wake to new wonders.
The platter is always full, always a miracle. It is I who must slow down and truly look to see what is indefatigably there.
It’s the same at our home on Dewees Island, the ancient hunting grounds of the Sewee people. I crisscross the sandy paths trying to see nature the way they might have. What did they think when they stumbled upon mating praying mantises, orb spiders sitting in the center of their webs, and raucous frogs blending into trees dripping with moss? Surely they smiled at the dolphins at play.
When they watched these animals at home, were they reminded of their own? Not as a structural concept, per se, but as a sensation in their bones?
Certainly home is something beyond what you own. Maybe it’s as Robert Frost once wrote: “Home is the place where, when you go there, they have to take you in.”
When the temperatures at the 49th parallel turn too cold to bear, it’s good to be back home at Bubber’s Sand Bar, sinking my feet into the sand while we put the spit and shine on our favorite stories. And it’s a lifesaver to share a cup of tea and dreams on a friend’s heated porch (even if we have to sit six feet apart).
Just waving at friendly faces on the way to the ferry gladdens my heart. I don’t know all the names, but I know they’re neighbors—that they might take me in if they really had to.
And then there’s my lifelong friend, the moon. No matter where I am, we say goodnight. Her faithful presence reminds me that home really is where my heart resides. Not inside the bloody beating organ of my chest, but in the Heart beyond the heart—the eternal Mystery of me (and you) that lives not in the painful, disappointing, or nostalgic past, nor in the scary or somehow better-than-this future, but in the only environment the essential “I” can withstand: this very moment.
In this moment, the platter is always full, always a miracle. All I have to do is listen with my Heart and know that I am Home.