Hello there friends! Welcome to Day 3 of the Five Days of Ruka! I have loved the opportunity to read the reflections of my fellow fellows (I chuckled a little when I wrote that) and I after taking time to reflect on my time participating in the fellowship thus far, I can’t wait to share my thoughts with y’all.
I think that it is fair to say that this semester was not an easy one. Not only was I taking the hardest course load I ever have at Rhodes, I also experienced many personal trials and hardships. There were many points throughout the semester that I longed for winter break. I dreamed for December 14, the day that it would all be over. All I wanted was to be back in California with my family. All I wanted was to be home.
On the last day of classes, I had a one-on-one meeting with Dr. McNary-Zak and we discussed the fact that the time that I had been longing for since October was finally drawing near. The conversation turned and we began to discuss life at the Ruka. In this conversation, I was mentioning something about going home and Dr. McNary-Zak stopped me. She wanted to clarify what I meant when I said “going home.” Since we had been talking about the Ruka, I think she was a little confused about why I was referring to returning to California (I do not blame her for wanting to clarify, as my 8:00 a.m, last day of classes brain was not yet fully awake). When I clarified that by saying “home” I was referring to the Ruka, she looked at me inquisitively and asked “Do you really feel as if that house is a home?” When I responded yes, her face lit up and she said something about how happy that made her (I honestly cannot remember what, I’ve taken a lot of finals and written a lot of papers since then).
After our meeting, I did not think much more about our brief conversation about the house as my brain was cluttered with healthcare policies and the religious traditions of India, but in the quiet moments, that conversation continued to pop into my brain and I found myself drifting into thoughts about what the work home means to me. To me, the cliché saying “the home is where the heart is” has always been especially true. Though a large chunk of my heart rests with the warm beaches, numerous mountains, and my loved ones in California, over the course of the semester, the Ruka has also become a home to me. Though the physical space is important to understanding the idea of what makes a home feel like home, the majority of that feeling comes from those who occupy it.
I am lucky enough that home has always been a place where I have felt supported, cared for, and loved. And if I rely on this definition of home, there is no doubt that the Ruka is home to me. Home is a place where you can come home after a long day and chat and laugh with your roommates while you make dinner or start your homework. Home is a place where people pick up your slack and wash your dishes for you or take out the trash because they know you are having a bad day. Home is sitting around the dinner table and planning the logistics of a party or the instillation of a rain barrel while also touching base about what is happening in our lives over a meal. Home is coming home at midnight after a birthday trip that took an extremely unfortunate turn to a living room full of your roommates (even one that had to wake up at 5:00 a.m. for work the next morning) with cupcakes, a present, candles, and song who were willing to let you tearfully collapse into their arms. Home is running home with excitement to share good news. Home is sitting together on the couch to study or with headphones in to watch Netflix separately, but together. Home is spontaneous dancing and uncontrollable laughter. Home is the mundane, everyday routine interrupted by a genuine conversation. Home is inviting others in during times of joy and sadness to be in community together. Home is a place, a feeling, a family. Home is the Ruka. And as they say, “there’s no place like home.”