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Lines from Hafiz:

Even angels fear that brand of madness that arrays itself against the world
and throws sharp stones and spears into the innocent and into one’s self.
O I know the way you can get
If you have not been out drinking Love…

I know how you can get if you have not had a drink from Love’s hands…

— Hafiz, 14th century Persian

I can look past most of your flaws.

Emotionally distant? Okay. Slight drinking

Problem? Fine. Killed a man once due to

Circumstances you can’t talk about?

Whatever. But saying “I seen,” instead of

“I saw,” is just something I won’t tolerate.

— Will Kolb


A community best serves itself when it truly serves the awakening of the unique story trying to come to life through each person born. — Michael Meade


And when you appear
All the rivers sound
In my body, bells
Shake the sky,
And a hymn fills the world.

Only you and I,
Only you and I, my love,
Listen to it.”

— Pablo Neruda

Or I could just as easily say “What is home?” I had my DNA checked a few years ago. My father was very proud of his English origins and name, but I was pleased to learn that forty three percent of my genes came from western France, with smatterings across French territory into Switzerland and traces to the west into Austria. Yes, there are little roots in northern Spain and up to Holland but less than expected in England and the British isles.

Knowing that gave me comfort because I had always been inexplicably attracted to France and French culture. By the time I got that information I had already learned French — it seemed imperative to do so — and had lived many years in France.

Do your genes call to you? It’s an interesting idea. I can’t fail to notice that the only time in my life when I felt at home was in France.

I grew up in Texas, never really feeling at home, but then my family moved every few years when I was growing up so I never had time to put down roots. I explained my restlessness to myself that way, as a logical result of a peripatetic childhood.

Mutating from a Texan to a hybrid Frenchman took decades. It wasn’t easy. The French have high standards for those who would try to speak their language. They’re critical, they’re not particularly accepting or encouraging. They often look down on those who struggle with French. I happened to have a knack for it.

The question is, is home a place on the globe or is it a portable feeling? I think it’s both, for me at least. I have made my home in spiritual and emotional places. I am at home in language, in words, in verbal expression, which is not limited to English. I have made a home in art and visual beauty. I have a refuge of love and devotion with my wife of thirty five years. Home is many things.

It’s strange to look back and see all those times I tried and could not feel at home. It’s also interesting to remember those times I started to put my tentative roots down only to reach the end of my planned stay and have to leave. There are many stages along the way to relaxing into a sense of belonging. I always held back, probably because I was too frequently uprooted as a child.

But certain things are required in order to accept a place or way of being. Something has to meet your essential self in just the right way. I didn’t know I would be so enchanted by the rains, fogs and drifting mist over the forests as I was before we lived in the east of France. Something about it put its arms around me and comforted me.

I miss that here in the land of constant sunshine. I miss the snow and the big log fires. I miss the bells that bracket the hours. I miss the rhythm of the days, the regional wines you can only get in that part of France. I miss the rituals of meeting and farewell. Is that attachment in the DNA or is it in habits formed over three decades?

I don’t know. In any case, for me that constitutes the feeling of home.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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