Ansgar Holmberg, CSJ, 81

LISTEN: Ansgar talks about home.

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When you think of the word home, what comes to your mind? (Excerpt from catalog)

What comes to my mind is peace, belonging, wholeness.  I once swam in a bay of Lake Superior where the water was bracing, transparent as air, and I could see each ripple and tiny pebble on the sandy bottom far below.  I was as at home as a fish in the ocean and thought what a perfect time it would be to die right then when I felt so entirely at one. 

I used to think I would feel at home when I had one place I would live in for a long time.  And I found that is not true.  For instance, I had a very, very short journey to Sweden.  I stepped in to Sweden and I felt a mysterious feeling of being home.  Even though I had never been there and I am quite sure that I will never be there again.  But it was the place where my father came from and I knew that he’d walked those streets as a little boy with his mother.  And so I think that probably was mostly the connection with him. 

I read a passage once from Catherine of Sienna and she speaks about making two homes.  To paraphrase, she says, “Make two homes for yourself.  One actual home, which you enter into and find rest and recollect and strengthen yourself for what you must do when you leave it.  The other is a spiritual home, which you are to carry with you always.  This is the home of your true self-knowledge where you go to find within yourself knowledge of the goodness of God.  These are two homes that are one and when abiding in one, it should be that you abide in the other.”

The second home that she talks about and that I so value is the interior home—your home inside, that you have with you all the time and that I strive to have with me all the time.  So that you can travel without leaving home.  Getting to know yourself is a coming home and sometimes that is not very comfortable.  You find out, “Oh, I’m not who I thought I was.” But it is also a place where I learn the most, I guess.