Reflections on Home

In Greek, the word for home is oikos, which is where we derive modern words like ecology, the study of home. Place-based spirituality considers the importance of home on identity formation and the notion of the sacred. In contrast, it is a decidedly paternalistic tendency in modern western societies to try to abstract ourselves, our ideas, and our end goals from their situated context, or home – in favor of ascendance, objectivity, and separation from the material plane. Donna Haraway might call this a certain type of “God Trick” (Haraway 1986), or the process by which we claim to be taking on an objective stance by denying our own embodiment, interrelatedness of physical context, and historical contingency. These are some of the first principles of ecology, which essentially seeks to understand these contexts and contingencies.

Home can be defined as the external environment that has become habituated in our psyches to the point that we do not recognize it as separate from ourselves. This is why it has been said that the last ones to discover water would be the fish, a fact that I was reminded of earlier today by an esteemed professor. She was using this as an analogy to talk about the reason humans have had trouble with the concept of “nature”– because it has been habituated into the surrounding matrix that we consider to be home. From a young age, home constantly infiltrates the senses, shaping us in specific ways so that the space we occupy fits us so snugly that we do not so much move within the environment as much as move with it in a co-creative experience that blurs the lines between cause and effect, subject and object, experiencer and experienced, and instead occupies the spaces in between those things.

We experience our external world through our perception, but it is really our own internal reaction or resonance to some “externality” that we are experiencing. In this way, internal and external are mirrors of the same reality, with our perception occupying the space between. Such is the fractalline nature of the universe, that we are given this small piece of conscious matter to attend to, which resonates and morphs along within and without the entirety of existence. It is in fact our embodiment, or circumstance of being (in?) a body, that enables our own continuity of experience (and hence construction of the concept of being a distinct “self”), because it is that which gives us our perceptive faculties.

Right now, we can take this abstract idea of home and root it into the physical plane through our own bodies – we supplant ourselves back into our bodies, the home of consciousness as we know it, into space-time, into the earth, and breathe deeply. Breath is our constant communion, the ever blending of internal and external, the wind inside of us that invokes our entire lived experience. Respiration is the process by which we continually become re-inspirited, lest we forget the roots of this word. Inspiriting our bodies in this way also inspirits the body of the earth, for our bodies are of the earth. Lest we forget that the roots of this world lie within each of us.