A homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past.
A Welsh word for a place where a being feels it ought to live. It is where nature around you feels right and welcoming.
My friend Steve put me onto these words about home and belonging. He was researching Welsh saints, and made the observation that many saints who are identified with particular places weren't actually born there.
For example, St Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, but he came as a slave from Great Britain, kidnapped by Irish pirates. St Piran is supposed to have been flung into the sea in Ireland with a millstone around his neck before floating to shore in Cornwall. St George, patron saint of England, was born in Turkey or Palestine to Greek parents. St David, patron saint of Wales, was born in what is now Wales, but he would not have recognized or identified with that entity. He was probably a native of a particular area called Henvynyw (Vetus-Menevia) in Cardiganshire, who then left home and founded monasteries and churches across modern day Wales.
I think these ideas are interesting in the light of our difficulties with belonging as Settler people in a country that is not our own. How do we relate to the places our ancestors came from? Are our impressions of those places accurate? What do we have to offer in this place?
Patti Smith wrote in her book The Mind of a Thief, 'I come from a transplanted people. It might mean we always grow a little crooked and ill at ease.'
The stories of those saints might remind us that God's people have often been exiled people. Perhaps they found ways to be at home in places that were not where they came from. Or perhaps they were able to act in ways that would not have been possible had they not left home.
I wonder how it feels for Aboriginal people who do not feel at home in the nation state of Australia, but who have a deep affinity with particular parts of the land. I wonder whether some people have been able to offer particular insights, coming from a place on the margins.
And while we have a tendency to claim people who have done great things as being 'one of us', the insight they offer may come because they do not quite belong, and can thus see more clearly what needs to be done.