Searching for someplace — even a virtual place, even a meeting between souls–that feels like home is a lot like searching for faith. So much of what I see and read disheartens me and makes anything like home — or faith — seem impossibly distant. At the same time, my faith, which sometimes seems to cling to me more than I cling to it, often helps me to spot bits of hope.

It’s a wandering journey — and one I hope you’ll join me on in this new blog for Religion News Service.

Rachel Marie Stone joins the Religion News Service blogging team from her home in Malawi.

Rachel Marie Stone joins the Religion News Service blogging team from her home in Malawi.

I know a thing or two or ten about journeys.

I’ve moved six times in the last ten years, and we’re not talking about moves across town here. In Spring 2004 my husband and I went from a high-rise apartment in Chicago to a town of fewer than 200 in the mountains of California. From there we moved — with our baby son in tow — to St. Andrews, Scotland (the home of golf, which I do not play or even like), where we added another son. From there, we went to Goettingen, Germany, where I rode my bike everywhere (with two kids trailing behind in their Kinderfahradanhanger) and ate a lot of apple pastries. A year later, we moved back to my native New York. Then, after a long, frustratingly news-free flight from New York to South Africa on Election Day 2012, we set up house in Zomba, Malawi, Africa, where we currently live.

Scotland

Rachel Marie Stone with her son in Scotland, 2008. Photo courtesy Rachel Marie Stone.

Don’t assume I am a particularly adventurous person — the sort of girl who dreamed of backpacking through Europe and sewing patches of the flags of every nation to said backpack, enjoying all sorts of (mis)adventures. I’m not that person and never have been. I barely left the greater New York area for first 18 years of my life and didn’t understand why anyone would feel the need to do so. Even now, it’s the place I think of when I think of home. That said, I rarely had a sense of truly being at home, except, perhaps, when I was with my family — or a few close friends — or was lost in the pages of books or talking with someone who loved the same imaginary worlds as I did.

Germany

Rachel Marie Stone’s son, Germany, 2010. Photo courtesy Rachel Marie Stone.

When I came across the word sehnsucht in C.S. Lewis, I felt I’d found the explanation for that sense of being, somehow, always out of place, of longing for something that I didn’t know exactly how to name. Sehnsucht is like nostalgia for something you’ve never even experienced. The Hebrew and Christian scriptures call it exile — from that first story in the Bible when humankind finds itself “east of Eden,” a place marked by suffering, wandering, and a longing to return home.

New York

Rachel Marie Stone’s children, New York, 2011. Photo courtesy Rachel Marie Stone.

In this blog, I hope to create a virtual space in which we’ll wander together, in search of home for our selves, our families, our spirits.

My interests are eclectic — ranging from family and children to education and literature, to food and eating, to maternal health and justice. You can expect to read a little about each of these topics, usually looked at from a faith perspective, on this blog. What links them is my desire to see the world — and, I hope, to leave the world — a little less homely and a little more homey.

Malawi

Rachel Marie Stone’s sons play in Malawi, Africa, 2012. Photo courtesy Rachel Marie Stone.

 {All photographs courtesy Rachel Marie Stone; some rights reserved.}

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