July 1, 2008
Writer: Janiel Nelson
Getting Back to Home
By Janiel Nelson
(LDS Life, July 2008)
A common phrase on a billboard I saw last summer was this: “There’s Still No Place Like Home.” That phrase stimulated the childhood memory growing up watching “The Wizard of Oz” each year. It was an emotional “roller coaster” ride for me. A sense of adventure and curiosity enveloped me as Dorothy’s “home” lands in Oz (interesting how her home is what transports her to a strange place don’t you think?). Then, the meeting of the friendly Munchkins, the mean Wicked Witch of the West and, of course, the good witch Glenda who gives Dorothy the ruby slippers. She is then sent on a journey following the yellow brick road. Along the way, she meets her friends the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Lion, and with their own unique challenges (heart, mind, and courage), assisted Dorothy in her quest to go “home.” It is fascinating to me that Dorothy had the ability with her to return home all along.
If I were to ask you, the reader, to finish this statement, “Home is where we . . .,” what would you say? “Home is where we . . . love to come, and where every member loves to stay, instead of a place where each person comes to eat and sleep.” “Home is where we . . . accept each member and where each is interested in what happens to every other member, and where loving, cooperative fellowship exists.” “Home is where we . . . willingly sacrifice personal expression and excitement to maintain it with courtesy and self-discipline.”
Perhaps you are thinking “those statements are too idealistic!” for my home. Maybe these are a little more appropriate: “Home is where we . . . work together, develop a sense of fairness, and learn to take turns.” “Home is where we . . . play together regularly, settle disagreements, and ultimately learn how to get along.” “Home is where . . . gentle humor abounds, even when the toilet overflows, the children track mud on a clean floor, and dinner gets burned (ever had one of those days?)” “Home is a place where . . . outsiders (even the neighbors’ obnoxious children) are welcome and love to come.”
Whatever phrase describes your home, the point is that home is where we go to do the things we do as families. We all need a place to call home; a dwelling, a structure with walls and rooms and places to put our “stuff;” a place where civilizations are created, one family at a time. It’s the “getting back home” that motivates us to return at the end of the day, gives us something to look forward to, and then leave again. Home can also be a haven from worldliness, materialism, and selfishness. No wonder Dorothy worked so hard to get back home.
It was Richard G. Scott who was asked where the home is in relation to The Family: A Proclamation to the World. His response: “Home is what strengthens the family. We use the two terms interchangeably. When we speak of home, we speak of family. When we speak of family, we speak of home.” Many would say home is a place where unwinding and visiting become pleasant ways of family togetherness.
Though we love to gather as families in our homes and share time together, home can also be a place of learning. I read recently a quote from Gordon B. Hinckley that said, “Home is where truth is learned; integrity is cultivated; self-discipline is instilled; and love is nurtured.” All of us can recall a time when our parents taught us that telling the truth was better than a lie. I had parents just like you who had me make my bed and contribute my energies to the general cleanliness of our home. I thought they were mean. Turns out, they were teaching me integrity and self-discipline in a loving and kind way.
Edgar A. Guest wrote “it takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home.” I believe this to be true. There are many who seek the joys and thrills of life outside the home without recognizing how rewarding home life is. If you asked me where I would like to spend my next vacation? It would be at home. Home is where my heart is. Home is where my thoughts return at the end of the day. I anxiously await weekends and look forward to spending time at home, taking care of its needs because it graciously takes care of mine.
We all have within us the ability to return home; home to a place that provides shelter from the storms of life; home to a place where your clothing is stored and your shoes are kept; home to a table with chairs to sit and eat together; home to your own little space you call “yours.” Home is where your family is. Isn’t it time, once again, for us all to rededicate [our]selves to the strengthening of [our] homes because . . . “there’s still no place like home?”
Janiel Nelson is a faculty member in the Department of Home and Family Education at Brigham Young University- Idaho.