When you see or hear the word “home”, what do you think of?  The place where you go after work/school?  I don’t think it’s just that place that we all think of.  Since my daughter’s going to college this month, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what “home” is, and how home means so many things to me- people, places, feelings- and how some of these different things were fleeting- but how many of them still make me feel like “home”- even after years of change.

“Home” is a feeling of safety, of comfort, of contentedness- and that feeling can be felt in a place, or with a person (or people).  You can be in a house or in an apartment, but not feel at home, but you can be in an open field, or at a beach and feel perfectly at home.  Likewise, you can be with a group of people and not feel at home, but be with one person and feel completely safe and at home. 

The first place I feel most at home is, well- my house!  I grew up here, basically from birth, with a few moves here and there, and college- but this house is my “home”.  I think it’s because this is where my grandparents lived, and I was very close with them, especially my grandmother.  She was also a safe “home” for me while she was alive.  There are memories of her in every corner of every room, and I cherish that.  A lot of people can’t wait to get out of their childhood home, but I delight in the fact that not only do I get to live in the place where I have such loving memories- but I get to live here now, with my family, and create new memories to mingle with the old. 

The next place where I feel at home is- and you’re gonna think I’m nuts- is a Carmelite Monastery in Beacon, NY.  I know, you’re thinking, Whaaaaaaaaat?!, but I’ll tell you my story…  In 1996, I felt that I wanted to be a nun.  The first place that I visited was the Carmelite Monastery in Beacon, NY.  As soon as I walked in, I knew that I was home.  Peace flooded my heart, and I just knew that this was where I was meant to be.  It’s a feeling that’s hard to explain- but we’ve all experienced it at some time.  I went on to visit monasteries in Queens, in PA, and in Stamford, CT, but I always came back to Beacon.  It was the place, yes, but also the people.  The nuns in Beacon were my “people”- they still are.  After a few years of discernment, and getting to know them well, I felt that my calling was not, in fact, to become a nun- and we all know my story now- but they hold a very special place in my heart.  I was there recently to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, and I said to Sr. Carolyn, “You know, no matter how many years go by, whenever I come here, I feel like I’m coming home.”  She said, “You know, you’re always welcome, and not just on feast days.  Don’t forget that.”  Those words still make me tear up when I think of them, because it makes me know that they still hold me as a special part of their community, as I hold each of them in my heart.  I took a selfie with Sr. Carolyn, and she said, “I feel famous now!” so I told her, “You are- you’re going to be in my blog next month!”  Here we are, and I added a fun pic of me in the old-style Carmelite Habit from my discernment days:

My other ”homes” include my Community Theatre family, my two best friends, and Salt of the Earth Center for Healing in Chestnut Ridge, NY (check them out at https://saltoftheearthcfh.com).

My biggest “home” is found in my husband and in my daughter.  Each moment that we spend together, whether having a great time, or arguing is a moment of complete contentedness.  Part of my “home” is moving to college soon and will be making her own new home, and although she won’t physically be here with me, she’ll be occupying the biggest part of my heart, because my heart is overflowing with love for her and for my husband, and when I am with them, or when I am thinking of dreaming of them- I am HOME. 

Jennifer Angarano Ricci is a wife, mother & creative soul-searcher.  She is a musician, artist, and baker, and runs her home business Baked By Jen, in addition to running her local community theater group.  She loves to sing, create and help others and tries to connect all three passions whenever possible.

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