between-our-steps05-11-17-doubleThe way family has and is changing in our society, celebrating Mother's Day feels anachronistic at best. For many people, the day can feel uncomfortable as the message of the day highlights the way their life does not fit the model. Although my kids still think it is an important day, and my mother certainly valued it, I would rather take it off the calendar. But, because it is there, I do take time each year to ponder what to do with Mother's Day.

I caught part of a radio program discussing whether teachers should have the children in their class make cards for the day. One idea was to make it a time to say thanks to the people who support the child in specific ways. There would be cards for the people who make supper every day, who drive the child to activities, who provide clean clothes. The hope was that every child in the classroom would be able to participate, and it would be a chance to show gratitude to the people who make the child's life safe, secure, and happy.

That idea would still be hard on the child who does not feel secure at home. The one who is not able to participate in sports because of a lack of money would be reminded of this. The one whose home is not loving would find it hard. If a teacher noticed the child who struggled with the activity, it might provide an opportunity to support the child.

The United Church has tried to make the day inclusive by celebrating family. Rather than just giving thanks for mothers, there is an effort to recognize the many shapes that family takes, to celebrate the gift of people who know us well, who share life with us, who are in our lives for the long haul.

One of the readings for this coming Sunday talks about a place of belonging. This got me thinking about home. Home is a place where we feel comfortable. Home is the place we come back to, the place where we are refreshed, where we relax.

Not that home doesn't take work. For a space to be comfortable it needs to be maintained. For a space we share to be relaxing, the relationships need attention.

Technology has enabled people to engage in paid work from home. This means that our house or our apartment is not just the place we go back to after work but the place where we do our work. This means staying near family. It also means we can multi-task, fitting in laundry when we take a coffee break.

Working from home is not that new. In our area, even if a farmer works several parcels of land, home tends to be on one of the farms. Mechanics and wood workers will have a shop next to the house.

When home and work take place in the same space, we have to practice balance, building in time off as well as time on the job, making sure home tasks don't distract from work tasks, making sure work does not take over.

Home is also more than the space we live and sleep. Home is the culture we belong to, the society we feel comfortable in. Eating in a Japanese restaurant, I saw a young woman come in alone. A selection of traditional dishes came one by one and each time the waitress arrived, she chatted away in Japanese. I may be wrong, but it seemed to me as if she had come for a taste of home.

The other night, Kelly (the man who posts my column each week coming up with great pictures and headlines for the banner--thank you Kelly!) talked about getting his first passport. He thought he was getting it in order to be free to travel away. But when it arrived, and he held it in his hand, what he felt was an affirmation of belonging, of home. The ticket to go away affirmed his sense of being here and being at home.

I think this year, I will be celebrating home, the sense of belonging, though I hope I also notice those who have lost their home, and those who feel they don't belong.

Cathy Hird is a farmer, minister, and writer living near Walters Falls.


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