By Anna Delamerced, FaithCounts.com Contributor
In my first month of studying abroad in Edinburgh this past spring, I felt a bit of a stranger to Scotland. Drinking tea with milk, riding the “lift” and sleeping in a “flat,” trying to come up with the best team name at weekly pub quiz nights (“You’re a Quizzard, Harry”). I needed to know my kilts from my ceilidhs, scones versus crumpets, tartans to saltires. And I had to find a better way of answering the question, “Where are you from?”
Whenever someone asked me that question, my throat tightened a bit. I had never really thought about ‘where I am from.’ Explaining where Ohio is, is more difficult than I had thought.
“Is that near Canada?” someone asked.
“Oh!…” They throw me a quizzical look.
I resort to broadening the geographical scope by explaining it’s in the Midwest.
“It’s in the Midwest? Sorry, you said the Midwest?”
“Is that…where is that again?”
Understandably, my United Kingdom friends find it hard to locate the Buckeye state mentally on the map. (After all, I myself did not know much of the geography of Britain before arriving.)
Such is my life as a study abroad student.
After several weeks in Scotland now, I do feel settled in. The students have been so friendly and the church community has been so welcoming. They’ve fed me, hosted me, opened their homes to me. At the same time, I bear an acute sense of awareness that I am not from here, and I don’t know if I will ever be able to say I truly belong here. Since I am only here for a few months, my ‘citizenship’ is temporary.
This got me thinking:
Where am I really from?
Where is my true home?
Where do I belong?
In our ever-increasingly globalized world, we cross boundaries, move to different cities, travel over oceans. What is the meaning of ‘home?’
My semester abroad in Scotland has been teaching me that our true citizenship is found in the kingdom of God.
We are called to be citizens of a kingdom that knows no bounds, a kingdom where all are welcome, a kingdom better than the ones we see on earth.
I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, but I attended university in Rhode Island. My parents are immigrants from the Philippines, and so I was raised in a household where a plate of spring rolls would sit next to the turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, where my Filipino culture harmonized with my American way of life. And now, I’m currently living in Scotland for a few months. But my true identity is rooted neither in my nationality nor in my ethnicity. It is not in the passport I bear, nor in the driver’s license stored in my wallet. It is not in what city or state or country I come from.
Rather, as a child of God, my identity is rooted in my Christian faith. My ultimate home is founded in a place that cannot be raided, in a place that cannot be broken in. In a place that stands, permanently. That is where I am truly from.
I know this world is not perfect. There’s a lot of suffering, dying, hurt, and pain, but we can hold onto the hope that we were not meant to live in this world. We were meant to live in our true home. I believe we belong to another world, one in which peoples of all nations will come together – people from all neighborhoods, zip codes, and cities – will gather round as one. A world in which there will be no more crying, no more death, no more pain. No more feeling like a stranger in a strange land, but rather, a child at home.
It may not be now, it may not be tomorrow, it may not even seem like it will ever come.
But I trust and hope and know that it will.