Hi, I’m Elaine or “El” Phoenix and I’d like to welcome you to our online home. Many of you know me as Running from Hell with El, which was what I called my online home for many years. Many of you know me from my adventures and misadventures from wherever we may have met. I’m not alone here in my online home, and that’s the way it is in my real home. There’s always someone walking beside me, just as there’s always someone walking beside you. Whether you realize it or not, we really are just walking each other home.
I didn’t make up the concept that we’re all walking each other home. But when something expresses what you’re trying to do as a person, as a mom, as a writer, and as a thinker so well, you’d best just go with it. There’s this other quote I heard recently. It goes along the lines of, “You never know whose eyes God’s gonna be watching you out of,” and it reminds me of a quote from Hebrews, which (to paraphrase) suggests that you should treat every stranger that comes to your door like he could be an angel, because you never really do know, do you?
I think about things like this a lot, and my favorite time to talk about them is when I’m walking with someone. Usually, it’s my kids. I have three of them, and I swear we spend most of our time together talking, trying to figure life out. I walk and talk with my husband a lot too, and he’s a private man, and I’m not supposed to brag about how he flies airplanes, but I gotta say at a minimum that he’s wonderful and that my life with him is like a conversation that you hope will never end.
We all need a home, which is also a theme that describes the work I do in my community, Front Royal, which is a cozy town nestled in the the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia. I’m on the board of ROTH of FR, which stands from Roof Over Their Heads of Front Royal. As the secretary of ROTH, I’m part of a team that’s doing all it can to solve the problem of homelessness in our community. Our long-term goal is to buy land and build tiny houses, but for now, we assist those in need any way we can.
A home means many things to me. It means home with a capital H–as in Home, which is what I call Heaven. The non-profit I founded, Strays Welcome Interfaith Ministries, seeks to guide people to their inward spiritual truth, or to the part of God’s DNA that lies within each human heart, by teaching from all the spiritual and religious traditions from throughout the world. The principle that guides my spirituality is one of openness and tolerance: I believe that all love-based spiritual paths lead humans to the same Home. And I embrace all of them, which is to say I’m neither Hindu nor Buddhist, Jewish nor Christian, Muslim nor New Age, but all of these. And no matter where you came from or what you believe, you’re welcome in my home.
Home also means the place we feel most welcome. Some of us don’t have a lot of company, so we seek it out online. We form friendships with folks who live hundreds or even thousands of miles away, and these friendships mean something. In fact, they mean a lot, because the online community gives those who are alone a place to go and feel comfy. Some of us are blessed with friends we can meet with in person, friends we can walk and talk with, friends who welcome us into their physical homes–and friends we welcome into ours. These are homes as well.
Another way to define home is where we abide. It’s the place where, hopefully, we give and receive the love we need. My online home now meshes with my physical home, because my eldest daughter, Madeline, is now online with me. She’s not alone nor am I–we’re walking beside one another in this difficult but beautiful journey as writers trying to make a go of it.
We all belong somewhere, and while you’re getting there, I hope you’ll grab a pair of shoes and come walk with us. Madeline, Chance and I like to tell stories. Chance is off on one of his adventures, so Madeline and I are tending the fire, telling stories that carry into the wind. There’s a common theme in every story we tell, and it’s encapsulated in the idea that we’re all helping each other out, or we’re all walking each other home.
Again, welcome. May you find and give the love you need, wherever you’re headed.