Eddie and Sue Arthur

Ramblings About Home

I used to know where my home was.

Until the age of 18, I lived in Sunderland, in the North-East of England and that was home. I was a northerner, secure in my attitudes and with an accent that I didn’t even know I possessed, because everyone talked the same as me.

The best part of forty years later, I’m a little confused about my home and I’m not sure that I even have one.

These musings were prompted by a recent week’s stay in Southampton. One day we had lunch with a delightful couple of friends who had been living in the same house since the mid 1970s; that’s around forty years for the mathematically challenged. Sue and I have been married just over thirty years and in that time we have lived in four countries and I really don’t know how many houses (my best guess is twelve, but for years we were effectively nomadic, travelling to workshops and training events around the country on a regular basis).

The one constant feature in our wanderings has been Southampton. It’s where we were both living when we were first married and has been the place we always returned to when we were living in Africa. When we came back to the UK in 2000, we settled back in to Southampton, thinking that we would be there for a decade or so before returning to Africa, but always maintaining a base in the town.

Things didn’t work out that way. I became director of Wycliffe Bible Translators which involved a move to High Wycombe and for that last six years, that has been where we have lived. I’ve never felt that I particularly belong here, it’s a place that I came to because of a job. Our house is nice and I love the woods that are only five minutes walk away, but I don’t feel at home. And now that I am no longer director of Wycliffe, we have no particular reason to stay here, but nor do we have a reason to move.

If home is where the heart is, then my home is all over the place. Most of it is wherever Sue happens to be, with bits divided between our two sons, the banks of the Wear, a village in West Africa, the Lake District and the Scottish Highlands. Home, as a concept, no longer really fits into my life. I’ve got a house and I’ve got friends all over the world, but I don’t think I’ve got a  home.

It feels a bit strange typing this, but its remarkably liberating, too. One day, I will settle down, but I hope it isn’t for a while yet.

But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Saviour.

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2 Comments on “Ramblings About Home

  1. I recently read Naomi Reed’s book ‘Heading Home’ which deals with these issues and points towards our ‘heavenly city’ – found it so helpful as a large part of me wants a settled ‘home’ here, but I know I have to wait for Heaven! When I was a child, some people referred to death as going to their ‘long home’ so I know I’m not the only one to feel that way.

  2. I think quite a few (not technically missionary) clergy will also recognise this, but then again so will more and more people who follow work around the country or the world.

    But I have to quibble with your Philippians “quotation”. There’s so much interpretation in that translation it’s questionable whether it counts as one!

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