I am writing this post from Israel, having spent five days visiting our daughter (who is living here for the year), and I’m about to spend a week with a group of Protestant seminary students. But this post isn’t really about who I’ll be interacting with on my travels. It’s about the feeling I have in Israel – and one I hope we all have at special destinations which bring about the sensation of being at home, even when you’re far from your regular home base. Indeed, this is a feeling that can be cultivated to great meaning and joy.
Yes, I do feel very at home where I am right now. But Israel wasn’t the first place where I felt this strong dynamic at work. The first place I declared to be my home away from home, according to family lore, was my grandparents’ house in Palm Springs, Calif.
Home is where the heart opens, and the hearts of others open to yours.
My family typically visited Palm Springs twice a year, and at age 2, I apparently walked in on the first day of one such visit and simply declared, to all who would listen, “Home.” (Ironically, that house was actually a second residence of my grandparents’, not their primary address.) “Home” was not about a place where any of us spent the majority of our time. It wasn’t even about where everything was ideal. We were two grandparents, two parents and four kids in a small three-bedroom house, after all!
The sensation of being at home was the feeling of being in a place where I belong, where I’m meant to be, where others around me are glad that I’m there, and where I’m safe. Although the city of Jerusalem is a long way from Palm Springs, personally not much has changed: Home (for me, at least) is not only where the heart is, but where the heart opens and the hearts of others open to yours.
You may have a different definition of home. But whatever it is that home means to you, if you can locate it and cultivate it, you too can own many homes. Here’s how: Where do you call home now? Stop and think about the feelings evoked by that space, when it’s working best for you. What other spaces evoke (have evoked) that feeling for you? How can you spend more time in those spaces, or others like it? In a way, this really puts you on a path to having multiple homes, and to a kind of emotional wealth that this “multiple home ownership” is uniquely poised to offer you.
Brad Hirschfield is the co-founder and co-executive editor of The Wisdom Daily. A rabbi, Brad has been featured on ABC’s Nightline UpClose, PBS’s Frontline, Fox News and National Public Radio. He wrote a long-standing column, “For God’s Sake,” for the Washington Post, and has also written for The Huffington Post and Beliefnet.com. He authored the book, You Don?t Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism. Brad also serves as President of Clal, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, a leadership training institute, think tank and resource center in New York City.