by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters e-newsletter, 10/31/13

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"Are you settled?" That is a great question. I want you to know that all signs indicate progress. Unpacked boxes now outnumber packed boxes in my office. I now know where the office coffee pot resides. This week I discovered the wonder that is S & S Cafeteria. We are settling in and we love it. Though we have wandered across the fine city of Macon, some days we can't figure out how to get from point A to point B without consulting the GPS. We lack the inner compass that Bibb county natives possess. Finding your way to a place that feels like home is much more complicated than finding your place on a map. 

It would be easier if humans were born with a built in sense of navigation, like a homing pigeon. For centuries homing pigeons have been used because they do have an innate sense where they can find their way back home from nearly any location.  You may think it's for the birds, but I believe that we can learn something from these nimble navigators. Pigeons have been used for their navigational abilities for thousands of years. Just how these birds navigate has been a matter of study. Jon Hagstrum, a geophysicist, has found that their navigation ability lies in the skill of listening to the landscape. Hagstrum theorizes that pigeons listen to ultra low frequency sounds and follow them back towards their coop. This "infrasound" lies at a range well below what is audible to people. To hear their way home these birds literally listen deeply to their landscape. 

We bipedal humans could learn something about navigating our lives. Listening is the first step. Really listen to your life. Listen to the Spirit's still, small voice that guides. Listen to the witness of the community of saints. By listening maybe we can gain a better sense of where we are in life and where we are called to be.

"Do you have a place to live?" That, too, is a question I am asked a lot lately. On the one hand, it is a simple question of geography. We live on Sheffield, by the way, just off of Pierce Avenue. When I hear that question, I can't help but think of the many ways that it isn't about geography at all. When I hear it at Highland Hills, I know that you are really asking whether or not we have found our sense of home. I have learned that when our parents ask us about where we live, they are more concerned about the geography of our hearts. Like you, they are asking, "Have you found a place to live that will make more of life?" The answer too is, yes. We believe that we have homed in on home.