Old city with quote

“A ‘homeland’ is not the place or soil on which a human is born, rather the place where he/she has the capacity of movement” Abdel Rahman Munif.

This, then, is, the TCK dilemma — as long as we are away from our passport countries, no matter where we are in the world, we feel we can move, we are free — we have the capacity of movement. By contrast, when we touch down in our passport countries, suddenly we are in a place where movement doesn’t feel so easy, so natural. Instead, we feel we have to have an excuse to head to the airport, something we never needed before. Suddenly our ability to move feels threatened, paralyzed even.

How do we learn to move in our passport countries? How do we adapt to where we have been placed, not being afraid to place tentative roots into the soil that surrounds us?

We learn to listen, to look outside of ourselves, to see others and remember it’s not all about us. We learn to grieve well, to use that holy gift of laughter and laugh hard, to cry when we need to. We learn that it is not disloyal to love two places at the same time. We learn the art of entry. We learn that ‘homelands’ can change, and we can adapt to them, adapt with them.

And through this we learn to move again. We regain the glorious capacity of movement. 

Photo Credit: Stefanie Sevim Gardner “Looking over the Old City of Jerusalem”

10 thoughts on ““Homelands”

    1. Yeah – I thought that as well….and I’ve thought alot about divided loyalties that speak to that. That we can love two places and not be disloyal is a huge thing to learn. In fact I’m writing about it right now on another piece.


  1. Ease of movement is the crux of the matter…. I’ve never thought of this before. But it’s so true. When I step off a plane in Asia I immediately know how to function. I know how to move. Instinctively I switch gears. Here I live perpetually fluggergusted. Stuck. Immobile.


  2. Oh that lovely picture of bougainvillea! Thank you, Stef. Takes me back to our last home in Pakistan. Auntie Connie, who first lived in that house, must have planted it (or caused it to be planted!) It covered one of our bedroom windows at one point, and climbed all the way up to the roof It bloomed all year, even right through our extremely hot summers.


    1. PS: So true for us, how Pakistan became a homeland. But always remembering where our true homeland is, the one where we will never have to move again, or wonder just where home really is.


      1. It’s so true – all this is a shadow. And sometimes that helps and other times it feels flat. But that doesn’t negate the truth of it. We were made for so much better!


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