And then their return to the pays natal, where the same old willows swept the same ragged lawns, where the same old prarie arose and bloomed as negligence permitted. Home. What kinder place could there be on earth, and why did it seem to them all like exile? Oh, to be passing anonymously through an impersonal landscape! Oh, not to know every stump and stone, not to remember how the fields of Queen Anne's lace figured in the childish happiness they had offered to their father's hopes, God bless him.
That odd capacity for destitution, as if by nature we ought to have so much more than nature gives us. As if we are shockingly unclothed when we lack the complacencies of ordinary life. In destitution, even of feeling or purpose, a human being is more hauntingly human and vulnerable to kindnesses because there is the sense that things should be otherwise, and then the thought of what is wanting and what alleviation would be, and how the soul could be put at ease, restored. At home. But the soul finds its own home if it ever has a home at all.
- Home, Marilynne Robinson
This is the companion novel to Gilead, which I raved about a few years ago here, here, and here. Home doesn't have the same feel with words that just made me sit in wonder with Gilead, but it's a good book for sure. This piece of the book is resonating with me now as I still struggle at times not to feel as I'm in exile in my home, as I am feeling vulnerable in many ways, but trying to allow my soul to find its home.
(By the way, I had to look up pays natal. It means native land.)