On Moving and Dislocation

Ask any New Yorker what their least favorite activity is – ask nearly anyone – and “moving” will come up pretty high on the list. All that packing and hunting and handing over money and resettling is rough.

It’s not just the work, though: it’s the feeling of rootlessness that comes from not having a home, from feeling dislocated and disconnected from reality. Something about having a place (a “room of one’s own,” as Virginia Woolf might have put it) makes you feel more at home in the world, too. Even if you’re not at home, you know where you’re going, and where you will rest your head.

I was thinking about this recently because I am moving this weekend, for the second time this year (this time into a place that my husband and I hope we can stay in for a long time, though in New York you never know what will happen next year), and I hate the feeling of dislocation. And I was also thinking about it because it struck me once again that Jesus, technically, was homeless:

 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Luke 9:57-58)

I see a lot of homeless people on my daily commute through Brooklyn and Manhattan, and I’ve pitched in with church initiatives to help provide meals, but I hadn’t thought too much about the kind of rootlessness homeless people experience that’s more than just not having anywhere to put your stuff. And the fact that Jesus was human, and didn’t have a home of his own, means he experienced this feeling as well.

So I am feeling grateful to have a home, and also thinking about how to help people feel less dislocated when they are in my home. Hospitality, I suppose, might be partially just helping people feel at home for a little while. Seems like a tall order, but I’m glad I have the privilege of doing that.

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