By Ryan Koch, Program Manager

How do you know when you’re home?  And how do you know when you are at work? 

These questions have been bubbling up for me since I started working at shelter. Learning this job is like learning a language. It is humbling, a little overwhelming. I am not yet conversant. I have lots to learn, and even more to unlearn. I hardly know how to describe the spirit of this place. One linguistic shortcut is to say that I work in a place that is the home of our residents.

And I thought that and said it quite a few times before I saw it animated.

One resident recently had some special guests. I did not know this resident’s name, or her story, but when I observed her kind young guests and how they were thrilled to be with her, I knew what was going on. Then, as she pulled together a meal for them, as she doted on them, my theory was confirmed: this woman was hosting her grandchildren.

It was an archetypal expression of love made possible by the existence of a home. Something utterly timeless and loving was underway. Surely this woman who was offering welcome was doing so in her home.

So much about this place looks familiar: meals; laundry; children; chores; laughter. And when this home is a place of hospitality, when it feels safe, nurturing and open, residents can heal and grow. They can access their inner wholeness.

Or as John O’Donohue says: “When one is at home in oneself, one is integrated and enjoys a sense of balance and poise. In a sense that is exactly what spirituality is: the art of homecoming.”