Longing for a home - part 2: my response to Andrew Peterson’s mailing
I myself was born in England to Irish parents, but 2 of my great-grandparents on my mother’s side were German and came to settle in Ireland in around 1860. Two years ago I did a sponsored cycle from Lourdes (S. France) to Fulda (central Germany - the shrine of St. Boniface), passing through Triberg in the Black Forest region of Germany, the home town of my great-grandfather, Stefan (Stephen) Faller. Though I didn’t meet any relatives, I spoke to local people who knew the clan of the Fallers. The surname actually originated from the town of Triberg itself (it’s to do with a mountain waterfall…). The whole experience felt so much like coming home that arriving in my final destination of Fulda felt like an anti-climax in comparison. An added element in the whole story is that he and his family were all Jewish, converting en masse to Catholicism when they arrived in Ireland, something my mother only told us siblings about 5 years ago, a couple of years before her death. Stephen Faller’s jewellers is still in existence in Galway town today, having been opened by my great-grandfather all those years ago.
I have found myself more and more attracted to Germany and to its people in recent years and in May will be going back there to cycle from Berlin to the Normandy beaches in a solo, 9 day, 950 mile “Reconciliation” sponsored cycle (more about that to come in future posts).
I’ve always felt a deep fondness for Ireland and its people, for my Irish roots. I’ve been a member of a French religious order for 26 years and Brittany has become another home for me thanks to increasingly frequent visits there over the years and the friendships I have developed with many of our Brothers there. I have lived much of my adult life here in Liverpool, in exile from my home town of Southampton, and I am very happy to call it my day to day home. And now Germany has become a sort of home for me too.
Maybe I’m experiencing in each of these places an aspect or aspects of the heavenly home that we are all called to in the end. Maybe each of them gives me a taste of that heavenly home we long for as Easter people.
Maybe the secret is to open your heart to the Lord wherever you are, to the experiences he wants to lead you through, to the people he wants you to meet. And maybe in the end we simply take our home with us, that home being Jesus Christ present within us.