We all need to come home. We have a place that we can call home and we need to belong to a society and culture. We need to be at home within our own hearts. We need to find a home in the hearts of others; and we need to be at home with our God... Our whole life is that journey home. (Sister Stan)
michael mitton spoke at greenbelt last year - i thought his talk was the best i have heard so far of those i have listened to from last year. he was speaking on the theme of homecoming as a model of renewal and mission. his latest book which formed the basis of that talk dreaming of home has just come out and is really good. he is a lovely man and we have become friends in the last couple of years - quiet, gentle, wise, a poet and writer and spiritual director. this gentle wisdom seeps through into the pages of the book. i don't think the book could have been written by someone young.
one of the moving stories in the book is michael's own where he describes an encounter with an old monk who expresses frustration with michael saying to him something like - the trouble with you is that you have not yet become michael mitton! this sets him off on a journey which leads to him leaving his job and setting off in a new direction (having been spoken to in a dream) to seek to come home to himself. this challenge of being at home with ourselves sounds so simple and yet it is such a challenge.
michael explores the strory of the two sons, and the father in luke 15 and creatively weaves his own imaginative telling interspersed through the book. if you like to know the influences, brueggemann, buechner, o donahue, sister stan, bailey, nouwen, rowland evans are the kinds of tributaries feeding the flow.
it's a reflective book, good for devotional use, for a retreat. at one level it's quite simple but at another it affords great depth as it opens up the possibility of soul work in our own homecoming and also in the creation of communities that can be places that carry this sense of home with acceptance and welcome, free from fear and shame. i found myself jotting down lots of quotes from the book to chew over. here's a couple to give you the flavour...
... a longing for a place of utter safety where we can be ourselves without fear or shame... We all have bits of us that are too sheltered, that are afraid to come out for one reason or another. If bits of us are hiding away like this it is a clue that we are not yet entirely at home in ourselves.
When you die and go to heaven and you meet God, God is not going to say to you 'Why didn't you become a saint? Why didn't you dscover the cure for cancer? Why didn't you change the world?' No all God will ask you at that holy time is 'Why didn't you become you?' (Elie Wiesel)
Home is where the heart is. It stands for the sure centre where individual life is shaped and from where it journeys forth. What it ultimately intends is that each of its individuals would develop the capacity to be at home in themselves. This is something that is usually overlooked but is a vital requirement in the creativity and integrity of individual personality... When one is at home in oneself, one is integrated and enjoys a sense of balance and poise. In a sense that is exactly what spirituality is - the art of homecoming. (O Donahue)