• Mairin Smit

Knowing You're Home

It’s a feeling deeply rooted in who you are. A feeling you didn’t know you were missing until you have it. And then you realize how valuable it is.



Megan Bjella came into my life through happy circumstance.

I was lucky that she and my husband’s best friend fell in love and decided to build a life together – bringing her into my family circle.

And if you've listened to this week’s episode, you’ll know why it’s a blessing.

Megan is kind and thoughtful. A deep thinker and feeler, with a way of making the abstract clear. Helping you connect what she's saying to your own life – even if your story’s different from hers.

And she does it all with a hearty, Mid-West practicality – a gentle no-nonsense attitude that calls you to get over your hang ups and go for it.

And because I don’t see her often, it’s extra special when I visit her in Madison, WI – a place she’s deeply connected to and calls home.

And her connection to where she lives – her sense of rootedness there – is evident when you spend time with her.

Megan grew up in Appleton, WI – about a 2 hr drive northeast of Madison. So she’s been a part of this landscape her whole life.

The lakes and farmland. The rolling hills and forests. And the Niagara Escarpment which carves it’s way through this land in a big arch, connecting directly to my home in Hamilton, ON.

All of this has shaped who she is.

So it’s no surprise spending time with Megan in Madison is all about spending time on the land.

Biking the shores of the lakes that define the city. Harvesting apples at a farm she volunteers at. Tending her vegetable plot. Or heading out to the local swimming hole at dusk for a dip, watching fireflies light up the fields around you.

With Megan as your guide, you notice the details.

She shows you how the rock formations change as you drive out of the city one way, as opposed to another.

She tells you the source of the river that’s flowing along the trail you’re hiking.

And she shows you your location using the back of her hand as a map – connecting her body directly with the land.

It’s what’s driven her desire to learn the land’s history. Of it’s traditional people and the injustice they’ve suffered there.

It’s no surprise when I asked Megan whose land she lives on to include in the land acknowledgement in her episode, she not only responded right away, but sent along articles about the Ho-Chunk people. And how the city and college she attended are grappling with their colonial past.

For Megan, learning these truths is part of how you honour the land. And work to make change today.

It's also how she builds community.

Connecting with folks who value the land – working to preserve and nurture it. And who love to spend time on it, experiencing nature.

It’s how her community becomes part of the land – her connection to community and the land, one in the same.

This sense of “home” Megan has is special.

One many of us are lacking.

We often end up in a place due to circumstance – following jobs, school or family to where we call home.

But the sense of home Megan’s taught me is about more than where you live, work or rest your head.

It’s a feeling in your bones.

Of belonging. Being exactly where you need to be. And feeling a part of the land around you.

Because when you find that sense of home, you also find ease.

Not that life is without challenge. But that your roots – in the land and community – will support you through it.

Because even in challenge, you know you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.

COVID-19 has left many of us thinking about our sense of home.

As we’ve spent months inside our houses and restricted to our local communities, we’ve begun to notice our sense of place.

Whether we feel truly connected to where we are.

It’s a reason so many of us have left big cities over the past few months.

Initially to escape tight living spaces, unaffordable rents or lack of places for our children to play.

But now, we’ve got no plans to return.

Because we’ve seen what’s missing.

That sense of connection to place. A connection to the land everyday. And the community you can build there.

It’s a feeling deeply rooted in who you are.

A feeling you didn’t know you were missing until you have it.

And then you realize how valuable it is.

It’s the feeling conveyed in the simple words Megan whispered to her husband many years ago, as we stood on the shore of Lake Mendota one evening, a band playing in the background and stars twinkling in the sky above us – “I love this place.”

May we all find this feeling of home too.

-Mairin

Where do you feel at home? What landscape do you feel a deep connection to?

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