It’s been unusually long since my last blog post, and you might be beginning to think – as one friend here suggested - that I was now regretting our decision to live in New York, after that idyllic experience of returning to ‘home’ (Stroud), and then to ‘home-home’ (Kimpton). We actually went on to spend Easter in Italy – that is, Luca’s home, or at least where he lived until the age of 6 when his family emigrated to Switzerland; for our three adult children this certainly is part of their experience of belonging to a place and its history, and it is a wonderful privilege to be part of that sort of home from home. Many generations of Bosattas (and the other names from our Italian family tree) come from this place, which makes at least in a geographical sense more deeply home for our family than anywhere else. Although we have never and most probably will never live there.
Take a look at this! After a wintry thunder storm and a phenomenal hailstorm with icicles the size of chickpeas rattling down onto our umbrellas, cars and rooftops, the snow lay low on the mountains. But Easter Sunday dawned with glorious clarity and warmth and this was my panorama photo from our veranda in Sant’Anna, Pianello, Lago di Como.
We were there to celebrate Nonna Laura’s 80th birthday with most of the close family: that is, with Nonno Luigi, all of the UK Bosattas, and Luca’s brothers and most of their family members. The party took place at the Osteria al Vecchio Bacucco (The Old Fool Restaurant) in Germasino, Gravedona, with a superb tasting menu – don’t the Italians just know how to do food THE BEST?!? High quality ingredients simply combined, tasty, fresh, perfectly balanced … slow… friendly, personal, happy. And a grappa on the house to end a superb lunchtime experience which was at least nearly worthy of the occasion (how can any event adequately reflect the value of a life, with or without such superlative food?!).
And after all of that … back to Manhattan, and to the home of choice for this period of our lives, far away from all the other places we call ‘home’. In accordance with Pliny the Elder’s well known adage, this is our actual real true home right now, for
“Home is where the heart is”. Yes. Even if parts of me feel very warmly towards parts of the world other than here, this is where, for now, my heart has settled.
“You are feeling freer in New York is because it is freer in New York”, a friend said to me this week. I am so enjoying this aspect of the vibrant Manhattan culture! In particular, I am feeling freer to speak and act out of my thoughts and intuitions, without the need to be as defensive or shy or ashamed of them as in the past. It is a really refreshing experience, and it feels as if I am discovering myself in a new way as time goes on – ‘dis’-‘cover’ being a very good word for what feels like taking the wraps off things I have kept hidden, and letting them show ‘out there’. It is a bit of an experiment, and it often feels risky and vulnerable, but it’s doing me soooo good. What is more, it seems to be doing the people about me good, if the warm responses I receive are anything to go by.
And if I am going to also tell you what I really think, I have to say that there is something about this experience of authenticity leading to effectiveness and fruitfulness that for me points to something bigger than me and my little life. I have to wonder if this part of how God works?
For as long as I can remember I have felt that the way I was taught to define ‘God’ or ‘God’s work’ somehow left little space for my actual experience of life; these definitions were not bad (probably) (or mostly), but were not necessarily life-giving either. My current experience affirms me and my relationship with God from the other end, as it were: being really honest with myself about what I observe inside, and risking responding to what I think and sense, from the inside out, leads to lovely stuff happening, and there is a satisfaction and a joy and a vitality and a serenity … just like how some of the world’s most attractive people describe their experience of God.
Satisfaction, joy, vitality, serenity. Just like the feeling of arriving home.
I came across this advice, which is such a kindly invitation: ‘Just keep coming home to yourself’, says Byron Katie. ‘You are the one who you’ve been waiting for’.
Does that resonate with you too? Perhaps home is, after all, not the geography or circumstances of a particular place, but is something that I carry with me wherever I go. Where I can simply be with my loved ones, wherever we find ourselves, and where I can express myself freely and fruitfully in what I do.
I like that thought. Will you come round to mine sometime, to share a meal and tell me what you think?