Here, I’m surrounded by the hearty village of women who raised me…I’m reminded I come from grace, love, and fortitude.

No matter where life and love take me, I’m always grounded by crossing the Mississippi Delta toward the foothills of the Ozarks I call home. With the relentless passing of time, these trips home seem more urgent and my thoughts race for most of the drive. People and land are changing; there’s much to be done in preparation for the passage all of these things and memories to the next generation to value.

Regardless of our duty station, “going home” always means a long, long drive. As I get closer, both my thoughts and my driving slow out of necessity. Through dark brown fields just starting to show green, my son remarks quietly, “I like it out here. It smells like dirt.” I love that he notices and tell him I like it, too. I point out the tiny town where my great-great grandparents lived; he seems unimpressed with the single gas station and lonely McDonald’s.

I seldom drive with the windows down (why?) but today on a two-lane highway under an east Arkansas sunset, we do. The smell of fresh dirt reminds me of my grandfather plowing in overalls in the spring sun, a smile on his face as he sees me come running. I’m sad my son will never know that memory or a million others, but he has his own to treasure. For a minute, he smells the dirt the generations of farmers who made me cultivated, and that’s enough to make me smile. I know the pontoon boats and dam at the lake will impress him more than my genealogy lesson has.

My life’s tale is a long and complicated one but when I’m here, it doesn’t seem as much so. It becomes the simple story of the love of friends I was born with and a family that may not always understand me but loves and trusts me anyway. I’m grateful, so blessed that these are my people and this is my home.

Here, I’m surrounded (both literally and by memories that are either old and magical or new and raw) by the hearty village of women who raised me. In their shadows, I’m reminded I come from grace, love, and fortitude. When I leave it will be with a renewed sense of purpose; again sure of what I’m made of and who I am.

I hope you have a place that makes you feel like coming home and reminds you who you are and who you are meant to be. If not, I hope you find that place in the future. There’s more to home than a dot on a map (sometimes, it’s not a place at all). Home is simply the people who make you who you are. Where do you call home? What smells, sounds, and sights take you back there?

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