Folklore is filled with the homeless. There are pilgrims and fugitives, persecuted teachers and those unfortunates fated to wander eternally as punishment or curse. Jesus said “Foxes have dens and birds have nests but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Luke 9:58). Dionysus fled persecution from Greece to India to the ocean to the underworld. Sara-Kali was a wanderer and patron saint of wanderers, the Rom. Buddha left home in spectacular manner, abandoning wife, child and duty, never to return.


We may feel more settled than these figures, but at some level we know the truth: everything we have will be lost, everything we love will change. We are spinning on a planet whirling around a sun swirling in a galaxy that is itself speeding into the unknown. Like it or not, we are all wanderers.


I’ve always had a roof over my head, but often felt unsheltered. And so I’ve sought belonging in religion and relationships. Yet every group I joined held someone who triggered me, mythologies that called my name then lost their power, and my idea of who I really was suffered constant (and sometimes forceful) revision. I left home to look for home, but the destination eluded me. It began to dawn on me that I couldn’t replace my imperfect parents, my imperfect past, my imperfect self, with something better. That the sense of being homeless was perhaps, permanent. 


In just this way, if we choose to walk a spiritual path it will eventually lead us away from the certainty we sought and into the desert. And there we start the real work—not finding shelter, but learning to deal with the feeling of being unsheltered. It’s ourselves—our uncomfortable emotions—that we can’t handle, not the absence of some support or affirmation. Buddhism’s great insight is that these feelings of being lost and anxious are not a problem, not something to be solved. We can learn to weather them, explore them, and watch them shift and change. Indeed clinging to belief—in a god, in a true home, in the next and better thing—is the real source of stress and angst. It’s a gift to release the effort of trying to feel the right thing, be the right thing, believe the thing we wish were true.


Our job is to accept things as they are in such a way that we are both humbled and exhilarated by the complexity, intensity and brevity of life, by the extremes of cruelty and compassion, by our complete immersion in a sea of vicissitude. Embracing our connection to life means accepting this fluidity. Rejecting it cuts us off, sets us back to square one, looking for a home we never really had.


Instead of trying to prove the Divine is real, we can choose to regard the Real as divine, that is, worthy of our attention and acceptance.“Nature’s imagination is so much greater than ours,” (Richard Feynman) giving us so many chances to stretch the heart and mind. Pagans see this clearly, honouring a Goddess who is reality, light and dark. She is big enough to be whatever we need…but not always that and not only that.


In Her Charge, She tells us, “I have been with you from the beginning, and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.” She surrounds us in the form of everything that is. And it is only when we stop desiring something other than what is that we can truly know Her.


Yes, She’s thrown us out of the plane without a parachute. But as we watch life elude explanation and certainty slither out of our grasp, we may begin to glimpse another truth: while there’s no parachute, neither is there any ground. She’s cast us into deep water, but when we know we are the ocean, we need not fear the waves.