This is homecoming week at Olympia High School. My senior daughter is preparing to sparkle up for the traditional dinner, dance, and chilly photos on the Capitol steps. Even though I find it touching to take her shopping for a dress, pick out the perfect lipstick, and see her emerge from the bathroom transformed into a princess, homecoming of this sort is strange to me. It reminds me of the many traditions we practice that no longer hold meaning.

I am a person who has always struggled to feel at home. In my family of origin my well-meaning Mother’s favorite saying “good Christian girls don’t…” taught me little but that I was not a good Christian girl and that it was to my benefit to pretend otherwise. Being out in the world was a similar experience of not fitting the mold. Finding it simpler and safer to construct myself outwardly for the comfort of others, more and more parts of myself flourished only in the dark, in the spaciousness of the woods, or in the limitlessness of my own imagination. Adulthood is a process of re-integration of the hidden self and of releasing traditions that are only persnickety obligations of habit. As I bring into the light all that once lived in shadow homecoming is a welcoming and a reconciliation with myself.

On my altar is one of my favorite photos. My two daughters stand on the beach of the cabin property we rented when my first husband and I split. For a couple of months we had flirted with homelessness, living like gypsies moving from campground to campground. We were never without resources and never in danger of actual homelessness. We remember that first summer, before we rented the cabin, as the adventure of our lives. But to find our new home was a homecoming to something both completely unknown to us and a return to sense of stability and comfort we could appreciate more after our time wandering.

This unique time was one of living life as myself wholly, and of deepening my dialogue with source. The first night I spent in that new place I lay alone in my bed, probably for the first time in years. Stiff with fear and a sense of isolation, all I could do was look out to the stars and listen. Through the windows and walls I could hear the melody of the nearby spring trickling down to the bay. I felt the energy of the stars and the stream soaking into me and I knew all was well. Since then I always make time to sleep under the stars alone and ask for dreams of comfort, healing, guidance, remembrance, connection, inspiration, whatever I need.

I often have a sense of my eventual destiny in this lifetime as giving up exterior home completely. I imagine a total isolation from the familiar and the predictable material home and stepping into a life of pilgrimage, into nothing but the path itself.

Today I will welcome myself home as best I can. I enjoy the comforts of garden and hearth. I light the candle on my altar letting its light connect the spaces inside and out, a welcoming and a placeholder for the most precious of homecomings.

The sun flickers through the red leaves of the dogwood alternating between illumination and shadow, pulsing like a flutter of the heart. As I till the soil and plant seeds to stratify through the long season of darkness, paint and shape clay, I call in a new and steadier sense of home to shine through all that I create.