One of the hardest questions for me to answer is when people ask me where I’m from. Not because I’m ashamed or embarrassed, but because I’m not sure. We moved a lot when I was a child. By the time I was 22 I had lived in 6 different states. I don’t feel native of any area. I have many homes.
On the first day of the immersion course we were asked to introduce ourselves including, of course, where we are from. I said that I call West
In preparing for the trip I was nervous about taking people with me back to visit places that I knew and loved so well in
At many points on our journey, I was scared of how this group of seminarians, social work students, and media organizers would interact with the people and community that I love so much. And some days it was hard. Some days, when people offered feelings and critiques of work that was being done, I got defensive. Its like when you can complain about your family ‘till the cows come home, but God help anyone else that tries to say something bad about your family.
On the other hand, I understood that this is a process and a learning experience for our group to better understand the region, the connection to religion, and various models for eliminating poverty. I knew that many times I had the same critiques that members of our group offered. I know how important it is to process and question things that we were experiencing.
This question of “home” kept coming up throughout the trip. Many of the people we spoke with, shared with us how people outside the community have used the Appalachian region’s resources or have come to proselytize or to exploit the communities. People are skeptical of outsiders, and rightfully so. As one not native to WV, what right do I have to call this place “home?”
During our textual reflections on the book of Ruth, the question of insider/outsider and the question of where is your home was also raised. Ruth follows Naomi back to a place where she is a foreigner and dependent upon others for her livelihood. Ruth vows to her mother-in-law that she will follow her and accept her people and her way of life.
On Thursday, in
Like Ruth, I vow to enter a land that I am not native to, but that I consider my “home.” “Your people shall be my people…”