I heard this word, Homegoing, not long ago and it has stuck with me. I see it as a lovely expression of directional intent. It was used in the black community in relation to a person’s spirit going home to their essential self in death. The homegoing spirit traveling to wherever she chooses to believe she is headed. Each of us is a homegoing spirit – in this moment, in this day, in this chapter of our lives, in this lifetime, across many lifetimes. In Teilhard de Chardin’s terms, we are ‘spirits having a human experience’ rather than ‘humans have a spiritual experience’.

We are all homegoing, if home is the evolutionary impulse that pulls and nags and cajoles us to ‘continue to proceed’, as my grandfather used to say. Proceed to what I’m not too sure but whatever it is has a subtle appeal, an intimation, a wondering about it that keeps me homegoing, despite the fear or dread that may accompany the attraction. Our spirits are called forth in what Ken Wilber calls the ‘Eros tilt’, that yearning for a deeper, more intimate connection with the whole universe.

This pull has been a focus of mine for the last while, although I have just recently made the connection to home. I have been preoccupied with the idea of preparing for death, getting ready now for what is to inevitably come, not only to me but to others, those I love and those I have never even met. I’m anxious to know how to be with others’ suffering or fear, and how to deal with my own pain. I have lost a number of very significant people in my life lately and it has brought the whole idea of death and what happens after it to the forefront. What does this homegoing look like?

I have read a number of books, looking for the themes and patterns in them that might provide some clues to the mystery. So far, I have learned about near-death experiences where people have literally died and decided to come back, bringing their tales of wonder with them. There is a hypnotist who works with people to uncover what happens to them between lives. There is a whole Buddhist history of practice for dying and rebirth. It seems across the ages and traditions, there is a sustaining belief in something more, something larger than our fragile selves, a homegoing beyond this life and the possibility that our hero’s journey is much larger and somehow part of an exquisite unfolding across time and space that we are only beginning to discover.

Of course, this may also be wishful thinking, creating a comforting story to protect our delicate egos from the fact of annihilation. And yet, there is the wondering… I am more and more convinced that we have choice. Just as we can choose to live our lives as precious gifts or tremendous burdens, regardless of our resources, I believe we can also choose how to die our deaths. After all, we die a little every day, beginning the day we are born. We die to each day when we sleep. We die to who we are each time we have a realization that the world, and we ourselves, are not as we thought. And we eventually die to this home and go on to what’s next. Dying is part of living. Perhaps it is the realization of this impermanence that brings into stark focus the treasure of being human.

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One Response to Homegoing

  1. Carol MacKinnon says:

    I’ve reread this several times, and each time, hear a spiritual roll around in my imagination…about Going Home… deep rich velvety voice singing it… can’t quite seem to find it….but did find this, on youtube…this is actually the beginning melody in the New World Symphony by Antonin Dvorak, but this group has set words to it….It will remind you, perhaps, of Charlie’s Christmas concert!

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