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Odysseus and You

Let’s face it, many of us have very conflicted feelings about home. For some of us, the homes of our childhood were places of discord or trauma. And the homes we have made for ourselves? We dwell in them longing for our true homes.

Is it possible to feel longing for a home we have never known? This is the paradoxical feeling that leads us to meditate and to all spiritual search. Turning our attention towards ourselves, letting ourselves completely relax, we begin to feel free from the endless pressure to act outward. And we can feel as if we are going somewhere–not so much going as sinking and opening–in the direction of our true nature.  Letting go, we can realize we have been caught up in a battle we don’t really believe in, armored by attitudes that aren’t really you.  Letting go, we let this feeling of question guide us.

I recently learned that the nostalgia was engineered. It was created in 1688 by Johannes Hofer, an Austrian medical student, who joined two Greek words, nostois, return, and algos, pain, to describe the longing for home that Swiss soldiers felt while stationed in the mountains.  We can practically feel the morning mist and see the snow-capped alps.  But Homer used a version of the word, nostos, the homecoming stories. Some scholars say that ancient Greek epics can be divided into stories seeking glory in war (the Illiad) and stories of seeking the way home (the Odyssey).  Perhaps our ordinary lives–even our days–can be divided the same way:  we long to go out and get things done (sometimes big things, sometimes the small glory of the laundry and other tasks).  And then we ache to find our true home.  For Odysseus it was a long, long odyssey home–first the quest for glory in war against Troy and then the that deep ache to return to true home, that place where he could be his true self, no disguises or tricks or armor.

For us, the same. The going out and the journeying back. I think this reflects the natural rhythm of life-the out breath and the in breath. Sometimes, when we are really relaxed and quiet and receptive, we can have an inkling that this is the way it is supposed to be, this coming and going. We see that it really is completely acceptable and that there is a larger pattern and a larger life. And we are part of it. And this is our true home.

One reply on “Odysseus and You”

During this time now, I feel a peace at being home. Summer travels with their wonders and wishes return to the familiar of home are gone. There is a calm in noticing the familiar trees changing in the season. Some desires have evaporated. The trees sway and recognize we have been here each morning.

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