WHY do our homes mean so much to us? Perhaps, as the music critic Jude Rodgers reflected in a recent Radio 4 series, Door Stepping, in which she revisited all the houses she has lived in, it’s because they are frames for our memories or anchors back to our pasts. We hope to find a shadow of ourselves in their walls.
As a third-culture kid (a child raised in a culture other than his or her parents’), Jo Swinney has called many different countries — and continents — home.
Through an often humorous exploration of her own life and the places she has lived, her book is a meditation on the meaning of this powerful word. Successive chapters explore her theme, which she interprets not so much as a place as a “quest to belong”, in relation to family, culture, nationality, wanderlust, the self, marriage, locality, church, and work.
Although not assuming a Christian readership, the book is informed by biblical spirituality and lifestyle, and easy to read, in a chatty, engaging style. There is rich storytelling, with brilliant little details from the author’s childhood. But it is serious, too, clear-sighted, and honest about life’s difficulties.
In the end, home is not about buildings, the places we have lived in the past, but what we’ve invested in them. As the book concludes, telling our stories is important, because it reminds us that our identities are always changing and growing: “Making our peace with where we’ve come from is how we’ll be able to find home in the story from here on.”
The Revd Anna Macham is the Priest-in-Charge of St Philip’s, Camberwell, in south London.
Home: The quest to belong
Hodder & Stoughton £14.99
Church Times Bookshop £13.50