Coming Home - by Louise Charman

Louise Charman expresses that wonderful sense of completeness of finding a 'home' where our soul can shine most brightly.

Ten years ago I was on a plane heading back to England, having interrupted my round the world trip with a six year stay in Australia. I sat next to an American woman who told me that, according to astrocartography, (which maps the effects on your astrological birth chart of being in different locations on the planet), she was far more attuned to living in England than in her native New York.

I started thinking about my own extended stay in Australia and why I had felt such a reluctance to return to England. Many of us can relate to the feeling of freedom that arises when we are away from family members who perceive us in certain ways and have expectations of who we are - or are not. For me, this sense of freedom was heightened by the expansiveness of the Australian landscape and its reluctance to be subdued by mankind. I loved walking along a Sydney street and being confronted by a natural wall of ancient sandstone, or heading to the beach at dawn and seeing how the tide had buried the stairway up to its shoulders in sand.

Yet probably the greatest lure for me in Australia was the spiritual opening which accompanied this physical expansiveness. I embarked on a fiery relationship with a man whose insecurities mirrored my own, but who also unwittingly launched me on the path of personal development. For the first time, I came face-to-face with the concept that I was the creator of my life and that maybe, just maybe, I was deserving of a good life.

As a teenager, I had turned to the church to find communion with a force greater than myself, but the idea of being a sinner constantly seeking forgiveness and a distant chance at heaven simply weakened my already fragile self esteem. In Australia I sensed heaven on earth in the sheer breadth of the sky, the swirling history captured in the giant cliffs and the rainbow birds which fluttered freely through the bush.

Initiated into the treasure chest of the so-called 'New Age', I threw myself into courses and workshops, danced on hot coals and smoked peace pipes in sweat lodges, chanted under the full moon and gradually felt my soul emerge to celebrate life instead of struggling through it. I met wonderful people who shared my enthusiasm for this new journey and drew me into a world which felt right. The heavy clouds of my own doubt and fears, which had dogged my teenage years and early adulthood, were burned away in the blazing reemergence of my childhood self: confident, creative and brimming with enthusiasm for life.

There were still hurdles to come, however: my career had stalled while I played out the dramas of my relationship and gradually exposed the patterns that kept me there. The power and freedom I had tasted made me painfully aware of how far my life was from reflecting my true self. It took considerable effort to break free from my partner and a year of depression and therapy before I was ready to take my life in a new direction.

In the meantime, I had become an Australian citizen and was free to continue my travels, knowing that I could always return to my new homeland. I headed to London, not only to start a new career and spend time with my family, but also to gauge my feelings about England and see if Australia had been more than an illuminating, but transitory, interlude in my life.

In England, I struggled to find the same spiritual network I had enjoyed in Australia. I am sure there are many Australians who have experienced exactly the opposite and have found their spiritual home in England. Yet four years later, I knew in my heart that I had to return to Australia to continue my journey of self discovery.

I arrived in Sydney a week before the Olympic Games and threw myself into the celebrations with gusto. I found myself laughing out loud as I walked across the Harbour Bridge, watching the ferries chug past the Opera House and the shimmering city. I moved to a flat overlooking the beach and swam every day in the ocean while the sun rose waxy pink on the horizon. I started working from home, formed a singing group with two wonderful new sisters and found myself writing songs at four in the morning. I began to meditate regularly and learn about the subtle energies of the body, gradually healing long-held health problems. Once again my life seemed to blossom and I felt the subtle thrill of being a foreigner in a land which welcomed me so completely.

I often think of my American friend on that plane so many years ago, heading happily to her spiritual home in England. I imagine a world brimming with souls which swirl and shift like particles of golden dust, taking flight from their places of birth and finally settling, perhaps in a distant corner of the planet, where they can shine most brightly.