In celebration of the release of her new book, At Home in the World, about a year spent traveling around the world with her family of five, Tsh Oxenreider is challenging readers to share where they have felt most at home in the world. Before I tell you my place, let me share how much I have been looking forward to reading this book. I went to the travel section of Barnes and Noble the day her book was released this week and immediately bought a copy. I want to support her work because I believe in her message of simplicity, a global perspective, and Christianity that is rooted in Christ’s teachings — not skewed by a political view, not superficial. I listen to her podcast regularly and consider her to be a great influence toward a life lived with intention and reflection.
My travels have taken me abroad to the high-energy sidewalks of London, to a misty fjord of Tadoussac to see whales, to the mountains of Alberta to slide down a waterfall, and to the Caribbean, where the snorkeling was a stunning show of colors and sea life. One trip closer to home that really stands out to me was Asheville, NC, because our week was filled with wonderful live music, food, friendly people, and an evening spent at an outdoor spa hot tub. I’ve only ever had one bad travel experience — on our honeymoon — when our travel agent sent us to St. Thomas, in a spot that ended up being over-priced and sketchy, but we made the best of that.
When I think of where I feel most at home in the world, I would probably pick my cozy red living room chair, curled up with a book and a cup of hot tea, with my Sheltie at my side and my son playing with his Thomas trains on the floor. That would be closely followed by a walk on my family’s farm where I grew up or a hike in the beautiful forest trails near the house where we live now. Hiking with my Sheltie and breathing the fresh air as the trees stretch high above brings such a connection to the land, to God’s creative hand, and to myself. With this view of the world, valuing simplicity and nature, is it any wonder that my husband and I are great admirers of Henry David Thoreau?
I wrote the following post on my blog a few years ago, but the theme of feeling at home in the world brought it to mind again. It connects two of my favorite writers — Lucy Maud Montgomery and Henry David Thoreau — with my travel experience of being engaged at Walden Pond.
“It gave a strange reality to the books of theirs which I have read to see those places where they once lived and labored.” – L.M. Montgomery
I saw something in a blog recently that gave me a feeling of awe. The writer probably didn’t realize what she wrote would touch someone else so deeply – but she told me that one of my childhood dreams had partially come true five years ago.
I didn’t even realize it back then.
My dream reveals an early level of literary geekdom: I wanted to visit Prince Edward Island to walk in the steps of author L.M. Montgomery, who wrote the Anne of Green Gables stories, to make the stories come alive for me even more than they already had in the past.
When I was young, I loved Anne’s imagination, her dramatic way of speaking, how she had a best friend as true and loyal as Diana, how she yearned for stylish puffed sleeves, and how she was so oblivious to Gilbert’s love at first. As I grew older and kept returning to the books and movies, I saw the character of Anne as someone who was a role model — a writer, a teacher, a friend, someone whose love ran deep. Anne and Diana were real to me.
The blog said L.M. Montgomery made a literary pilgrimage in 1910 to Concord, Massachusetts — the spot where American greats including Thoreau, Emerson, and Louisa May Alcott once lived and wrote.
Montgomery wrote: “[Concord] is a most charming spot and I shall never forget the delightful drive we had around it. We saw the ‘Old Manse’ where Hawthorne lived during his honeymoon and where he wrote ‘Mosses from an Old Manse,’ the ‘Wayside’ where he also lived, the ‘Orchard House’ where Louisa Alcott wrote, and Emerson’s house.”
My mind immediately connected: L.M. Montgomery had been to Concord to visit literary spots; my husband and I were engaged there five years ago and visited those same spots after a very long drive from our hometown. My husband got down on one knee at the site of Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond, and later that day, we visited the Old Manse that L.M. Montgomery had also written about visiting. We ended up seeing the Alcott house and spending a lot of time in Boston, not too far from Concord.
It was a romantic engagement that created lifelong memories way before I realized the new connection.
As I read the blog, the realization hit: I had probably walked in L.M. Montgomery’s footsteps without even realizing it. It wasn’t how I imagined it happening, but seeing my memories in this new light is inspiring.
I still want to visit Prince Edward Island someday. In the meantime, I think it’s amazing that my own feet have already travelled a little closer to the steps of L.M. Montgomery than I had realized. As a person of faith, I believe we can never fully know all of the connections that life has in store for us. I’m thankful for the sweet surprises that are revealed along the way, and I’m also thankful for the parts of the story that are yet to be known.
I hope life surprises you this week.
With love and blessings,
Teresa from Mama Muse Me