Davis & Elkins College celebrated Homecoming last weekend. I met so many alumni who returned to their alma mater with a sparkle in their eye to step foot back on this beloved campus and reconnect with friends, faculty, and staff who influenced their journey. There is a magic to returning to the ground where life was influenced, and the journey enriched. When alumni return to D&E, they reconnect with their personal history as well as the institution’s history. The result is a sense of belonging and a contentment that we are now a part of that long line of men and women who have been transformed by the mission envisioned by the founders more than a century ago.

After two years of the pandemic preventing Homecoming on campus, we welcomed alumni back with the simple theme: “Come Home.” Over the weekend we talked a lot about the powerful concept of “home.” I have heard some say that home and house should never be confused. Others say home is not a physical location, but rather people and relationships. I agree with both and don’t believe they are necessarily contradictory.

I am one of those people who likes to be rooted, hence why I am so pleased to be living back in my home state of West Virginia. When visiting in a town where I lived with my family while growing up, I like to go back and see the house where we lived. It creates a flood of memories, and that reminds me of home. When I think of my childhood home, my thoughts are of my beloved parents and siblings, experiences great and small with family and friends. Home was where I experienced unconditional love, acceptance, and the support to become the adult I am today. Home was not brick and mortar, and yet there was a place that serves as a repository of memories, where to this day, I can return and find comfort and peace in reflection.

This past weekend many rediscovered “home” on the Davis & Elkins College campus. With the flood of memories also came the realization that this hallowed ground provided four years of love, acceptance, and support that molded everyone into the man or woman that he or she is today. There is meaning and power in “home.”

I owe a debt of gratitude to the Swiss writer Pascal Mercier, who wrote the following in his novel “Night Train to Lisbon”:

“We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place,

we stay there, even though we go away.

And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.”

Perhaps there is a part of me left behind in each of those houses I like to visit, each of those people who intersected with my life, and each of those experiences that molded me into the person I am today.  Perhaps, all those “places” together create a sense of home. They certainly create a sense of identity and peace. And each of them makes up my journey … my life.

For the gift of “Homecoming” I thank God!  The journey continues…

Chris A. Wood
Davis & Elkins College