Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Place Called Home

Home. It has always meant so much to me, even though so many places have been called by that name. Sure, I moved around quite a bit but I always had at least two places that I called "going home." As I've grown up I now have my own home in Arizona (that I have become mildly obsessed with making into my own) and I will forever have my parents' home in Georgia, to which I will return next week.

And as much as I have felt like a vagabond, a wandering traveler, a nomad, I've never had to worry for where I could go to and be loved on and feel safe.

This is perhaps one of my greatest heartaches and greatest challenges to understand as I work with these most fabulous and frustrating students. For some of them, there is no place to call home. There is a place where they can lay their head and be fed, but there is no place where they can go and feel safe, feel loved, feel cared for. Each house in which they stay comes with its own set of drama, sadness, distrust. And certainly they sometimes make the trouble for themselves, but I cannot imagine not having a place to call home.

I cannot imagine not having a place where you are wanted and cared for without strings or a sense of unwanted obligation.

I cannot imagine not curling up in a place and knowing that the whole world is going to be ok because your parents are taking care of things.

And as I wrestle with this for our students I begin to view the Kennel with new eyes. I begin to see the way that we love these kids unconditionally. I see how we are consistent in our rules, our discipline, our excitement. I see that we have a routine, which sometimes makes me antsy, but it provides for our students an expectation of normalcy that does not exist elsewhere in their world. These kids know that we love them, but that we will not fail to correct, to challenge, to concern ourselves with their problems no matter how small.

And it is in this that I realize that the Kennel has become, rather unconventionally, a place called home. The love that we have for these students goes past obligation, or a job, but rather becomes our privilege to walk through the ups and downs with them. We become a mismatched family, brought together by a whole lot of love, that these kids can't escape when they set foot on our grounds.

And that is just one of the many reasons that I love my job. Because no matter what it looks like, everyone deserves a place to call home. 

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