A couple of weeks ago, I was at the dentist’s office for an annual checkup and cleaning. As the dentist examined my mouth, probing my gum line with the delicate precision of an ant in a sugar bowl, he said: “Your teeth are moving.”
I mumbled: “Mrrtgwoof?”
“Teeth do that, you know,” he said. “You must have had braces when you were younger.”
I nodded as best I could and he continued cheerfully: “Teeth travel back to where they came from. That’s why, as you get older, the gaps between your teeth get wider.”
The rest of the conversation — in which he described the various “procedures” he could perform to close the gaps between my teeth — remains hazy in my memory. (Which must also be traveling homeward, since the gaps in it are growing!)
As I drove home, I ran my tongue in wonder over my miraculous teeth. My teeth know where they came from! And through more than forty years of forcible displacement, they’ve remained doggedly determined to get back to where they belong.
Everything answers the call to home.
Teeth. And spawning salmon. Birds that fly thousands of miles each spring to return home from their southern migration. Monarch butterflies. Stars. Sea lions, bats, ants trudging in military formation, and pods of whales.
We humans do too, although our lives are so noisy these days that the call of home can dwindle to the faintest whisper, inaudible to all but the most attentive ear.
That call can emerge as restlessness, emptiness, a longing for something as-yet unnamed.
We work harder, or party more. We hang onto relationships that leave our hearts blighted, or we buy stuff . . . However blindly, each of us is trying to echolocate our way home.
Home is our soul’s vibration resonating in our bodies — that unique, complex, perfect hum of heart and presence that’s so familiar, we ignore it because we think it has to be something more exotic. Something esoteric — an angelic choir; an epiphany on the road to Damascus. Something hard-to-get, as sexily out of reach as that movie star you mooned over when you were a teenager.
So we go searching. In teachers and classes and books. In spiritual practices. In our spouses, our children — everywhere but ourselves. Like my traveling teeth, we follow every whisper and rumor of home.
Until, one day, exhausted from the search, buttering a piece of toast or listening idly to a song on the radio — or sitting in a dentist’s chair — we click into that home frequency that vibrates in our cells, in our breath, in our beating hearts. And we remember … we are home. WE are home.