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Amy Boucher Pye and Katharine Swartz are both writers, wives of vicars and North Americans living in Britain. Amy shares their stories of living in a foreign land

Finding Hom S

trangers in a foreign land – what do you think of? Perhaps Abraham, or the Israelites wandering through the desert, or the apostle Paul on his missionary

journeys. Or maybe you think of modern- day migrants fleeing political hotspots or survivors of natural disasters dwelling in refugee camps.

Making my home in Britain over nearly 20

years has entailed me struggling with the label of ‘foreigner’ at times. Such as when someone asks me, “Where are you from?” I can feel a jolt that I’m different. Yet we can live in the same village as the one in which we were born and still feel a sense of not belonging. But these aches and yearnings spur us on to search for the true source of identity and home – that is, God. His love bridges the gap and fills our empty places. He spans the spread-out geography many people experience with loved ones dotted around the world. He shows us that our true home is in him, and not in whatever

14 October 2015 womanalive

country we identify with. I wrote Finding Myself in Britain: Our

Search for Faith, Home & True Identity to explore these issues of identity, meaning, and searching for home. I examine many of the UK’s cultural riches – from Harvest to Wimbledon with lashings of tea in between – but I also unpack what it means to find yourself when you lose what you hold dear, such as country, family, friends, career, and good plumbing. I married my English prince but I wasn’t prepared for the heartache I’d feel in, say, not spending Christmas with my family in Minnesota. But nor did I realise that in losing myself, I’d find my true identity – one at home yet far from Home.

Beware: Dislocation ahead Recently I discussed some of these issues with a friend whom I met when we both first came to this country, Katharine Swartz (whom I’ve always known as Katie).

Amy: One of my first memories of you

was hearing from Nicholas [my husband] that “two North Americans are at Ridley Hall too, and had arrived on the QE2.” It seems a bit odd now that we didn’t bond more back then – both wanting to write; both new to the country; both about to be VWs [vicars’ wives] – maybe we were too much in shock? I remember you saying one day when we were with a fellow VW how much you missed the smell of lilacs in the spring, and she said with a bit of surprise, “But there’s a lilac bush right outside our house!” Katie: I think when you came to Cambridge, I was working four jobs and then pregnant and terribly nauseous, so I suspect that is why we didn’t bond more. Also I was very young at the time, only 24! Looking back I feel like I was little more than a child. I do remember having lunch together once at your flat and talking about America. It’s funny you mention the lilacs because that was a watershed moment

Photo: Kevin Ahronson

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