“Mama once told me you’re already home where you feel love.”
These were the words ringing in my head on an overcrowded bus in Lima, Peru. I hadn’t expected the tears to come as the song, “Lost in my Mind” by The Head and the Heart came on my iPod. But then again, I hadn’t expected such a statement to ring so true when I was on Study-Service Term (SST). I had been in Peru for a month and my time with my host family in Lima would soon be coming to an end. The realization that I would never live with this family again broke my heart.
But more striking in this moment than the heartbreak was the realization that I truly felt at home. Although much was still foreign to me, such as the language and customs, I was overcome with the undeniable feeling of comfort. The love from and for my host family was so familiar and understandable. I could take refuge in this love and thrive in it, even if so much of my world was difficult for me to understand. This love broke down all language and cultural barriers.
This moment became a turning point for me during my time in Peru. I can’t quite explain it, but when I felt this intense moment of love, I realized that I needed to remain open. Up until that point, I was trying to sort through my experiences to decide what was and was not important to process. In that moment, I realized that I needed to be open to all my experiences, good and bad. I needed to live in the moment and become immersed in the world around me.
By the end of my time in Peru, I had let in the world. I let in the love of two host families, several amazing directors and 15 new friends. I let in the mountains, the cities, the languages and the cultures. I let in joy, sorrow, hope and a renewed need for justice. I let in a new-found love for myself. I let in God.
No matter where we are, we are never far from home. God’s love is constantly around us. It is present in our families, in our friends, in strangers, in sights and in sounds. It is present in the sun that rises and sets on every horizon. It is present in the winds that sweep the streets of Goshen and the mountains of Cusco. It is present in the ground under our feet and the rains that wash over our nations. God’s love follows us to the ends of the earth and beyond.
God’s love is not a revelation, but a realization. When we allow ourselves to take in the world around us, we will realize the many gifts that God has tucked away in the most unexpected places in our lives.
So in this season of advent, welcome home, welcome love, welcome God.