After a long and lonely autumn in a far-off country, I couldn’t wait for Christmas break. Going home for the holidays held a promise of happiness that contrasted starkly with the cold reception I had received when I’d arrived. So I was stunned to learn that I had to get permission to travel from the head of the school where I was teaching – permission that wasn’t easy to come by.
As I fumed over what felt like one more example of a lack of hospitality in this place, I realized what I most needed was a more inspired view of home. If home was just the place where I’d grown up or where my family lived, I could feel at home only occasionally. What I really longed for was something more permanent and unconditional – the feeling of warm welcome and loving approval that home and family represented.
Prayer came to my rescue. It helped me understand that these amenities come directly to me from God. Because God is the source of all goodness, I reasoned, He includes every good quality. As His dearly loved child, I was and am the natural recipient of all that good. Comfort and companionship, for example, were already mine. They couldn’t possibly be dependent on where or with whom I spent Christmas.
Did I feel this? Not right away, but I wanted to. I thought of an arresting statement by Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy: “Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 1).
This molding and exalting action, I’d learned from experience, is a total blessing. It transforms our thought, raising us to see limitless good in the midst of injustice, hurt, or wrong.
That’s what happened to me. I prayed to trust God with my desire to feel a divine sense of home. And I began to feel the truth of some scriptural words: “In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge” (Prov. 14:26). The image of refuge took root in my thought, replacing a barren sense of home with a more spiritual one – filling my consciousness with homelike qualities I’d thought were missing.
I did go home that Christmas. But the “home” I took with me was a spiritual idea, an inner conviction that I was loved by God – at home – no matter where I was. This quiet joy enriched the family togetherness I felt during my visit. Even better, it settled into my heart and transformed my outlook on my surroundings. When I learned that joy was built into my nature as God’s creation, I stopped looking for it in situations and people. Instead, I took it with me, and found that it was no longer lacking in my life.
A radical change had taken place when I returned to my adopted country after Christmas. New friends and experiences came for sure. But best of all, my new perception of home as spiritual guaranteed an at-home feeling every place I lived, and during every holiday, from that time on.
Mrs. Eddy offers these words of comfort to anyone longing to feel at home: “ ‘If God be for us, who can be against us?’ If He be with us, the wayside is a sanctuary, and the desert a resting-place peopled with living witnesses of the fact that ‘God is Love’ ” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 150).
Home – the consciousness of God’s love for us – is the perfect place to spend the holidays.