Recently, on my daily walk in the park, I met a turtle. I was doing a walking meditation out in nature, and all of a sudden, in the middle of the walkway, right next to a road, I saw a turtle. As I approached, the turtle crouched a little, but didn’t retreat completely into its shell. I stopped for a moment to admire its beauty and tenacity. And although I was hesitant to interfere with its journey, I decided to carry the turtle across the road so it would be safe from unsuspecting or careless drivers, as I figured it was on its way to the nearby pond. So we journeyed together for a little while—the turtle and I—and as I set it down and turned away to continue my walk, I wished it well.
Since the encounter, I have wondered whether the turtle has thought about me as much as I have thought about it. Because I have thought about it a great deal—not so much immediately afterwards, but later. It was the next day, in fact, and a dear friend casually mentioned the word “home” to me in conversation. And in that instant I was struck absolutely still as the concept of home seized me, and totally captured my attention. And in the very next instant I remembered the turtle.
You see, the turtle takes its home with it everywhere it goes. We think of turtles in this way because its shell provides both shelter and protection. And turtles generally roam about in their environments, rather than coming and going from one place. They certainly don’t make nests or burrows, or come and go from one particular place they claim in their territory, as some other animals tend to do.
I can relate to turtle and its "mobile" home. My very first home was literally a mobile home, although I don’t remember it at all, as my family moved out before I was a year old. In fact, my family moved households twelve times before I was graduated from high school. I also claim the turtle as one of my totem animals, as I learned several years ago in my studies of Native American spirituality.
So, a mobile home: the idea of taking along one’s home wherever one goes. There’s a freedom in traveling around, and setting up camp for a while, then moving on. Several indigenous peoples around the world have long histories of doing just that. Native Americans come to mind immediately, as do the peoples of North Africa and the Middle East in their tents and caravans.
There’s an efficiency of living that this lifestyle demands. One takes along only what one needs; there are no collections to carry, no big stores of things to be schlepped around, no heavy furniture to move. Sometimes I feel a longing to do this myself. I’ve thought about taking a nice, long road trip across North America, exploring parts of the country I haven’t yet seen, going at a comfortable pace, with this feeling of freedom and efficiency. It’s very appealing to me.
And yet, I also love the idea of settling in one place for a while. A long while. Putting down roots. Nesting. "Come on in, stay a while, relax! Make yourself at home." I love everything about home. I love making a home, I love staying home, I love living at home and all the things that entails.
It’s no wonder because both my given name and my birth date numerologically come out to the number six, which suggests that I have a strong desire for harmonious and beautiful surroundings, that I am very “home-based”. And the architect is definitely one of my archetypes—one to which I very strongly relate. In fact, my natural affinity for architecture and interior design emerged while I was still a child. I began drawing floor plans of my ideal home when I was nine years old. I played with my doll house only to arrange and rearrange the furniture and the rooms; once that was done, I was done—I never, ever played with the dolls that went with my doll house. At the same age, I designed and created fairy gardens in my yard too.
My love of creating harmonious and beautiful surroundings has continued well into my adult years. More than once I considered becoming an interior designer, and I thoroughly enjoy incorporating those activities into my chosen vocation as an intuitive life coach. When I teach classes, I take care in arranging the room, in getting the space just right. Inevitably some people come early, and some of them want to help with the setup, and others like to watch me and even make gentle fun of my desire to have everything be “just so.” But the space has to feel right. Anyone who has studied Feng Shui or sacred space, as I have, knows how important the environment is to the activities that take place there. The environment can enhance, or it can distract.
I’ve been thinking about the concept of home in other ways as well. Recently in my personal life, I had to decide whether to keep my former home of 20 years, or let it go to the Universe. This situation brought to the forefront of my mind some key questions: Where do I want to be? How do I want to live? What do I want my home to be like? It is both frightening and very, very exciting to think about this.
We build, we nurture, and we live in these physical spaces that we call home. And these physical structures are very, very important in our lives. For one thing, our homes are outward reflections of our inner selves. If we live in a cluttered physical environment, it is likely that we also are experiencing mental and emotional clutter or confusion. Conversely, if our home environment is open and freeflowing, we are likewise moving with the currents in our lives—in the flow, so to speak. If our home is productive and prosperous, or stuck and poor, if it is easygoing and fortunate, or uptight and unlucky, if it is healthy and thriving, or decaying and ruinous—whatever the characteristics of our home may be, it shows us who we have become and to what extent we are allowing ourselves to express and experience ourselves: our thoughts, our emotions, our actions.We create and change the energy of our physical spaces with the energy that we are carrying inside of us—in other words, through our intentions. During seminary, I learned a lot about creating sacred space. I learned about dowsing, and space clearing, and how to read the energy of a place and how to change it for specific purposes. But one of the most important things I ever learned was how to carry sacred space with me—how to make my body and especially, my self a temple or home for that which is sacred. And if you have that, what need you care about the outside environment? How can it affect you negatively? You walk into a room where an argument has just taken place, and you are unaffected by that energy.
And that brings me back to the idea of carrying our homes with us wherever we go. Our true home is really our source, if you think about it—that from whence we came. We are spiritual beings having a human experience, remember? So we understand on some level that “life is but a dream.” At the deepest, innermost experience of ourselves, we are eternal. We are spirit. We are source. And that source is home, sweet home.
Copyright © 2008 by Joanne Franchina
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