Coming Home

by Chris Koellhoffer, IHM    July 15, 2023

Perhaps it’s a shift in emphasis. I know I’m a part of this beautiful yet wounded world. Yet when it comes to a full experience of just what that belonging means, I’m only gradually unpacking a deeper knowing of my membership and asking, what might it mean to belong to this world so loved by the Holy One? What might it mean to be fully at home?

I’ve been away for the past few days. I stayed in a house not far from where I live. What did I do during those days? Stillness and rest. Nothing more than listening to my body. Nothing more than sitting on a porch, gazing out onto the vast expanse of a peaceful lake. Nothing more than looking with delight at two young deer who made a tentative appearance, or being startled by a hungry bass who broke the water. Nothing more than turning my face up to a starlit sky late at night. I banished any agenda, to-do list, or deadline. I welcomed instead the persistent thread of belonging and let it settle and weave itself through my thoughts.

Perhaps at times we need to go away and return home in order to more fully notice the blessings that are all around us at every moment. When I came home and got out of my car in the parking lot, the neighbor’s dog woofed in acknowledgment of my homecoming. As I rounded the corner to my door, the scent of lavender from my tiny garden wafted towards me and I caught sight of a fuzzy bumblebee lounging in a profusion of purple. Buds on the echinacea and black-eyed Susan had slowly unfurled themselves in my absence. I paused, drank in their beauty, and thanked them.

On the patio, the miracle of growing and greening and nourishing lay right in front of me, served with a side of welcome. My container garden promised a salad of romaine and red leaf lettuce, mint, and basil. Since the mint plant is the Mojito variety, a mocktail suggested itself, and who am I to ignore the sage advice of any green neighbor?

When I came inside, my tribe of African violets greeted me with a new display of  purple and white and cream. Two containers of ivy cascaded over the sides of their pots. As a lost spider crawled into view, I scooped him up and carried him to more familiar terrain outside. These sightings reminded me of a Quaker Mealtime Blessing: “Let us give thanks for unknown blessings already on the way.”

This is what kinship is about, I thought. Every day, we are greeted by all our relations, the human, certainly, but also our kin of leaf and petal, of fur, feather, and fin. Sometimes we can be oblivious to their presence and pass them by, but we were never meant to live as strangers from creation, distant from all that the Holy One named as good. We were meant, as Thich Nhat Hanh observes, to awaken from the illusion of our separateness. To live in full communion with creation.

Whereslugo, Unsplash

When we cultivate awareness and attention, our worldview grows larger as our focus becomes more intimate, more personal, more connected. We “see the world in a blade of grass. And heaven in a wild flower. Hold infinity in the palm of our hand. And eternity in an hour.” In tending to the smallest and most delicate of our neighbors, we practice loving compassion for the Universe that exists fully in them. In us. We wade into holy Mystery and get a glimpse of just how blessed we and all of creation really are, day after day after day.

Sit in stillness with the Holy One.
Take a few moments to imagine what home is for you.
What creatures inhabit your space and brighten your days?
Offer thanks for their blessed company, and welcome them all into your awareness.

Featured Image: Fern M. Lomibao, Unsplash

Please hold in your prayer my IHM Congregation’s Assembly and Jubilee taking place July 28-30, and also St. Joseph Center’s annual Festival in Scranton the same dates. Rooted in the core values of care, concern, compassion and commitment, Saint Joseph’s humbly serves people who are diagnosed with intellectual disability and those who seek pregnancy support, adoption assistance, outpatient therapy or medical day care services. Thank you!

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3 thoughts on “Coming Home”

  1. Chris, this is beautiful as always and I am happy that you took a few days to regoup. Love, Sr. Alphonsa

  2. You have an amazing gift Chris for helping us see what we need to always remember to look at with reverence.Recently I was in Wyoming and I could not stop drinking in the multi-colors of green

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