Summer Reading List Post 5: At Home in the World
At Home in the World
by Tsh Oxenreider
Review by: Joanna Polarek
The saying “Not all those who wander are lost” comes to mind when I reflect back on this book, At Home in the World. Imagine selling your home, packing up all your household goods into storage for a year so that you and your family can backpack your way around the world. To be specific, it’s eighteen countries in nine months. But, go back to the backpacking with your family part. That is what Tsh Oxenreider and her husband did with their three children, all under the age of ten. To explore land outside of their neighborhood, and to experience firsthand life with locals and practice their cultural rituals as they were welcomed into community wherever they went. Language barriers didn’t stop relationships from being built and human connection from cultivating at their various stays.
The journey from country to country was vibrantly descriptive with the exploration of food, cultures, sights, sounds and the experiences of traveling with a family. Acceptance by locals and invitations for strangers to come into homes were wildly explored. All while, Tsh and her husband explore with the idea of where they should settle in this world. Are they meant to settle overseas or back in the United States? More importantly, do they have to settle at all? Or what sort of stability is most important for the family?
Tsh discusses her spiritual journey on this trip, and experiences her connection with God in prayer labyrinths in various countries, a Spiritual Director, and even a one-day silent retreat. She seeks answers and finds them because God is faithfully in control. She discovers during this journey that “travel has taught me the blessing of ordinariness, of rootedness and stability. It can be found anywhere on the globe.” How wonderfully assuring it is to know that while we may not have the opportunity to travel around the world or explore unknown areas on this glorious Earth, we can all have stability, rootedness and the blessings of ordinariness wherever we live. Those elements are found where family is, where the heart is, where love is, and where God is. The common interwoven theme for all of us is that we all belong somewhere. We need to take the journey to get to the place where we feel the comforts of home.
How wonderfully assuring it is to know that while we may not have the opportunity to travel around the world or explore unknown areas on this glorious Earth, we can all have stability, rootedness and the blessings of ordinariness wherever we live.
This was one of my summer reads, and it was quickly absorbed within a long weekend. Tsh quotes Mark Twain “Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime.” Beyond the spiritual explorations, I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys memoirs and has an appreciation for travel. By the end of the book, I was craving gelato, and wanting to hop on a plane and travel.