Home… hard to know what it is if you’ve never had one
Home… I can’t say where it is but I know I’m going home
That’s where the heart is
And I know it aches
How your heart it breaks
And you can only take so much
Walk on, walk on
– Bono, “Walk On”, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, 2000.
Bono sings of those who are truly homeless for they have never had a place that was a home. They may have had a roof over their head, they may have had biological parents and siblings, but they have never known home. Brian J. Walsh, in his excellent book Beyond Homelessness, tells of volunteering at a youth drop-in centre in Toronto and how the kids all wanted to play Ping-Pong with him.
They wanted to play Ping-Pong with me . . . because I was an adult about the age of their fathers. Most of these kids had never, or at least very seldom, had this kind of experience with their dads. I was the dad-guy at the drop-in center. But not the dad who was responsible for their discipline. Not the dad they ran away from because of abuse. No, I was the rec-room, Ping-Pong-playing dad these kids, mostly young men, had always wanted.
Whenever I would talk to the kids in any depth, it became clear that even though “home” had been a site of such pain, such rejection, and such hurt, there was none-the-less a deep longing to go home. They still even referred to that place they had fled as home. And if they couldn’t go home there, they would long for experiencing home in some other place. (Bouma-Prediger 2008)
There is hope for a home for all. “I can’t say where it is but I know I’m going home.” We can hold out the hope of a true home for all who are homeless.
Bouma-Prediger, Steven and Walsh, Brian J. Beyond Homelessness: Christian Faith in a Culture of Displacement. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2008.