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Home is where we belong

By Fr Stephan Alexander

General Manager, CCSJ and AMMR


If you read Archbishop Jason’s article in the February 11 edition of The Catholic News or consumed insights from his recent book about Carnival, you would have identified his central thesis that, “Carnival is a mirror of the soul of T&T”.

In advancing his position His Grace explains that “Carnival is a multi-layered tapestry of various genres” and should not be lamented in its entirety since “many aspects of it are inspiring and worthy of attention and celebration”.

In other words, like our souls, Carnival reflects elements of light and darkness, sin and grace.

It has been a point of interest and inspiration for me to recognise that the soul of T&T has consistently been reflecting a desire for “home” or “homecoming”. The visibility of this theme was easily identified in popular songs for Carnival 2023 and 2024.

Nailah Blackman and Skinny Fabulous’ 2023 crowd favorite, ‘Come Home’ speaks about homecoming in terms of gratitude and, dare I say, repentance and forgiveness. Nailah sings, “I’m sorry and I need you back in my life”.

‘Welcome Home’, the title of Machel Montano, Voice, Agent Sacco and Travis World’s 2023 collaboration needs no explanation.

Mical Teja, arguably 2024’s most requested artiste, celebrated this theme with the invitation to take “a lil runaway” and come home because there’s “no place like home”. His songs ‘Runaway’ and ‘DNA’ remind us that home is where we belong. At home we can be free. At home the truth of ourselves is experienced and revealed.

A superficial reflection on this homeward desire would deposit us at the doorstep of Trinbago Carnival and lead us no further than mas or fete. Yet a deeper meaning exists.

Our desire for home and the restlessness of our hearts until we return home to rest, is innate in every human person. Hence, it continues to be explored by calypsonians, mas makers, theologians, spiritual writers, philosophers, musicians, poets and thinkers in various other disciplines.

Henri Nouwen devoted much of his later years to our ingrained desire for home. In perhaps his most popular book, The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming, Nouwen described homecoming or “coming home” as “walking step by step toward the One who awaits me with open arms and wants to hold me in an eternal embrace”.

He further states that it occurs in “the place within me where God has chosen to dwell. It is the place where I am held safe in the embrace of an all-loving Father who calls me by name and says, ‘You are my beloved … on you my favour rests’. It is the place where I can taste the joy and the peace that are not of this world”.

Home, therefore, is the human heart. It is what Nouwen terms the “inner sanctuary” or the place where God and humanity touch one another. Hence, “the closer we come to God, the closer we come to all our brothers and sisters in the human family”.

Why? Well, “The God who dwells in our inner sanctuary is also the God who dwells in the inner sanctuary of each human being”. That perhaps is what makes coming home desirous and yet elusive.

It demands an understanding that “I am God’s home” and at the same time the understanding that every other human person is similarly God’s home because home “lies hidden in every human heart”.

Our desire to come home is therefore our desire to be our authentic self in and through the encounter with God in myself and in the other, recognising that we are all one and the same.

We will continue to crave our home because it is central to our humanity. However, that desire will never be realised in isolation from society or through violation of another’s human dignity. We will never truly experience our homecoming if we do not respect each person and seek the common good of all. Mas and fete can be wonderful, and Soca may move us like nothing else, yet they won’t get us home if we aren’t moved beyond the superficial.

The “freedom in we DNA” that Teja sings about, when understood in the context of home and human dignity, is not the ability to “live we life” as we want. Rather, it is the freedom to love, respect and care for each other. It is the understanding that human dignity can only be realised and protected through our relationship with society-at-large.

Hence, our responsibility to consider and seek the good of others, and the good of the whole human family, which takes us beyond individual interests.

T&T’s soul-wrenching cry for home is a divinely inspired call. Let us respond by moving beyond licentious behaviour and towards authenticity in our Carnival as in our daily living.


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Photo by Julian Hochgesang on Unsplash