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Illinois Countryside

I recall once a friend saying to me, "never forget where you came from". And I wonder, where is that for you? The fascinating part is that none of us, to my knowledge, gets to pick where we're from. In fact, we all start as part of someone else's home. Some couple united to give birth to us and we were suddenly a part of another person's home address.

Then, something rather amazing happens. We start to embrace or look for our own home. I truly believe that so much of our own journey in this life is trying to find that place or that person that makes us feel at home.

Because I have received mail in Arizona, Illinois, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, England, and Hong Kong, I now feel adaptable and pretty flexible. I also feel like my home is rather confusing--at least in an emotional sense. For example, I know London, England, as a city better than I do Minneapolis, even though I grew up a six hour drive from Minnesota. Why? Because for a while, I actually lived in England. I may visit other cities, but truly seeking to make a life elsewhere means something.

Let's go back to where we came from...Cue Bruce Springsteen's 'My Hometown' and sing along...because that place has a haunting effect even if other places feel like home. I am comfortable in Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Phoenix, and Omaha in ways that are personal because, well, I have lived there. But, none of them 'haunt' me like the town I grew up in because it's where I am from.

And while I didn't choose that place, I made choices in that place. Those choices led me to other places and those other places are shaping the idea of this thing called home. I don't know what address best suits you, nor do I know what address was imposed on you when you were young, but I do know that it's worth building a home that's made of something more than brick, mud, or straw. Mine started in the Illinois Countryside and has traveled to various parts of the world. I am not sure where the final address for me will be--but I really like what author and speaker Shauna Niequist says: “Everybody has a home team: It’s the people you call when you get a flat tire or when something terrible happens. It’s the people who, near or far, know everything that’s wrong with you and love you anyways. These are the ones who tell you their secrets, who get themselves a glass of water without asking when they’re at your house. These are the people who cry when you cry. These are your people, your middle-of-the-night, no-matter-what people.”  In other words, building a 'no matter what' home is worth the effort and it's where we all really want our mail to be sent, no matter what the street sign says.

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As a University director of study abroad in Central Texas, ideas and stories matter. These reflections are for pilgrims making progress.