The Englishman-in-America undergoes a daily dose of being asked where he is from. At present, I spend about thirty hours a week waiting tables in a restaurant, serving in the region of 200 people; about 20% of them ask me where I'm from.
"Where's home?" they ask.
Answering is tricky. What is 'home' anyway?
i. Wherever I lay my hat, that's my home
But I've had about sixteen homes in the last twelve years, in four countries, and I wouldn't regard any of these houses as 'home'.
ii. Home is where the heart is
Sadly, it isn't feasible to set up perpetual camp on Stanage Edge outside Sheffield, nor in the blackberry-strewn sunken lanes of east Devon in early September. Alas.
iii. Home is where you're from
I was born in Yorkshire and raised in Hertfordshire, to parents from the Westcountry whose antecedents include Cornish, Norman, German, Irish, Welsh, and Saxon people. And my wife is Lebanese-German-English-American.
iv. Home is where you're going
Which means that if I've been adopted into the family of God, I will always ache to be 'somewhere else', and if I haven't, then home is an idealised construct that will never exist outside my imagination. Checkmate.
In the context of the restaurant, it's not really important to have an answer – most people are only asking so that they have an excuse to tell me about their friend who once went to London, or to ask me what I think of William and Kate – but it's worth thinking about at the moment, since Maria and I are preparing to move (again) in our neverending quest for life in all its fullness.
We have been invited by Joce and Josiah Lockhart (friends from our time in Edinburgh) to partner with them on establishing the Lockhart Family Farm,* and will be moving up to Fredericksburg, Virginia, in the next few months to commence our new life there.
The Farm is a social enterprise aiming to address social and environmental issues through permaculture farming, education programmes for adults and children, consumer buy-in schemes, and a bunch more interesting stuff which we will be part of creating.
In addition to farm-related work, we will be looking to continue pursuing our vocations in the spheres of church [me], and of health, fitness, and nutrition [Maria]. And hopefully we will find home along the way.