Hiraeth. It is a Welsh word that is quite difficult to describe in the English language, as it holds a depth of meaning and experience that words can’t always embody. For example, some words that are used to describe it are homesickness, nostalgia, longing or yearning. The word, though, is often translated to mean more than that. It is in some ways very multilayered, and encapsulates the feeling or experience of missing something or someone. It is a longing for ‘home’ in a place, person, or experience. In some attempts to describe it, it has been said that hiraeth is “a longing to be where your spirit lives”.
All my life I have lived with this sense of homesickness, a longing for that thing that I felt was missing. A yearning for something or someone that I sensed I had encountered long ago, as if it were in some other life. It is the awareness of this sense of ‘home’ that I have been before, that propels me to search for it again and again.
And so now, this hunger for an at-homeness, a spiritual home, a longing for beauty and belonging to be experienced in all of life, not only remains true within, but it fuels me to go find and discover it both inside, and outside of myself.
Though words are somewhat limiting, and can be tossed around quite fleetingly, it is in writing that I encounter a sense of at-homeness. Writing has always been a safe place for me. Reading has been a doorway into my imagination, and probably one of the best teachers I have ever learnt from. In and through the written language, I am more connected to myself and God, and thus others. And as my beloved Psychology professor and now dear friend would describe practices like this to be, it is my prayer. It unlocks me.
And so, my hope is that these writings, and small reflections may whet your own appetite for a rich and meaningful exploration. A discovering of an at-homeness in your life, and an acceptance of the hiraeth that you will encounter on the journey.