Coming HomeWithout question traveling is a rich experience. It alters our understanding of other cultures and traditions. It broadens our previously held ideas about them. And, through meaningful conversations with people we meet, our ideals hopefully become more universal. But after months of travel, there's nothing quite like Coming Home. It's that glorious moment when you walk into your house and the familiar settings, the books, the crystals, the altar with its lingering smells of burned down incense, reclaim you. There's a silent pause as you look around and hear the house saying, I've been here waiting; where have you been?
Returning home is another part of the travel experience. But, re-animating the home can take a while. Travel laundry has to be done. Suitcases, battered by TSA across two continents, need to be put away for another year. Then food and supplies brought in. This sounds rather ordinary and routine. But, in mindfulness practices, the process is quite deliberate and methodical. For when a house sits alone for months, it develops its own silent but very noticeable patterns. A calm stillness is tangible in every room. It's held its own space without benefit of human intervention. The objects, lovingly placed by careful hands, look somewhat tenuous. It's as though each one could easily dissolve into the ether.
So, re-introducing human contact is a slow and sacred process. It must be done gently while respecting the energetic patterns the house created without us. It continued to provide shelter and cooling from the elements, though no one was around to appreciate it. Silly as it sounds, that must be acknowledged. Just as we ask the house spirit to be watchful and protective when we leave for travel, the same way we thank it for its service and duty when we return.
Once food has filled the refrigerator it's time for the more subtle animations to begin. Flowers are brought in. Their colors permeate everything. Flower-presence enlivens the house, telling it, take note, they're back! The flowers never overwhelm, but are a compliment to the décor. But the one thing above all others that signals to the house that "they're back" is the smell of incense. Once lit, the light blue tendrils of smoke linger as the smell of Champa wafts through the atmosphere. Anyone coming in the front door remarks about the signature fragrance.
Each sense of sight and smell and touch and taste bring life back into the house. But the powerful sense of sound announces a unique harmony when the various chimes are returned to the garden. The bamboo chimes play a tubular melody against the tinkling pipes of the Woodstock chimes. Then, when the deep vibrant tones of the long Neptune pentatonic tubes sound their baritone notes, the garden and house fall into resonance. This is when the tones and aromas awaken the "house-spirit" and it once again becomes a spirit-home.
While these are most notable animations, balance must always be envisioned. When the elements are in harmony, balance is restored. When the sun moves across the heavens, announcing a new season every three months, balance is restored. When a house has its people, balance is restored. When its people animate the house, balance is restored. Coming Home restores a sacred balance. Gardens, left idle during travel, are weeded and fertilized, and balance is restored. Morning walks on the beach, not enjoyed since June, resume, and balance is restored. Sharing the journey with friends and students restores the balance.
In the end, it's these mundane acts of Coming Home that reclaim our space, renew us, and make us settled again. In these simple acts, great happiness and gratitude permeate the return to normalcy. May there be balance and happiness when you come home this Thanksgiving.
Jo Mooy - November 2015