One month ago a remarkable thing happened. A Loggerhead Turtle that had lived in an aquarium in South Africa for 20 years, made the incredible journey all the way to Australia. “Yoshi” had been rescued two decades ago with an injured shell. Now, after rehabilitation, she was set free. It took two years, but Yoshi swam 37,000 km—almost 23,000 miles— to breeding grounds in Australia. Scientists tracked her as she made this amazing trip, reminding us all how real homing instincts can be.
We’ve heard of displaced dogs and cats who travel across hundreds of miles to come home, bees who sense their way back to the hive, and of course we’ve marveled at the homing pigeons who were message carriers back in the day. Scientists aren’t sure how it works, whether these creatures feel a magnetic pull, can simply sense their longitude and latitude, or might even navigate by the stars. All they know is that many animals feel a pull from an unfamiliar environment to the one they left. Even migration to breeding grounds puzzles the experts as they marvel at the exacting journey so many make.
Which brings us to human beings. I believe we all feel a heavenly tug to come home again to a loving Father and Mother in Heaven. Sent here with a veil drawn over our minds, we don’t remember the details of our first home. But it still exists and it still lures us along. Nearly everyone has a sense that good behavior matters, that we often click with a new person in inexplicable ways, that people are drawn to become couples and families, that we attempt civilized living in tribes and communities.
Something in our nature makes us want to form bonds and associations. The light of Christ is given to all mankind and leads us to perform charitable acts of service, to give help and to show love. When we pray we have an inkling that God is listening, even if we can’t always discern His response. Everyone has the urge to reach out and re-establish that ancient relationship. We feel a tug. It feels warm, welcoming, and right.
Sometimes we could even say we feel homesick. Life is hard, people betray us, and disappointments pile up. We long for the affection and comfort of our eternal home. We pray, study scriptures, meditate, and attend the temple hoping for a distinct impression that we are not alone, that loved ones are guiding us and helping us. President Ezra Taft Benson described “heavenly hosts pulling for us—friends in heaven that we can’t remember now, who yearn for our victory.” And sometimes we get a wonderful glimpse into that world, a spiritual experience that confirms our faith and our hopes.
Many new converts express a sense that they have “come home again.” Truth resonates to us in hymns such as Our Savior’s Love which includes the phrase, “bound to him by loving ties.” We remember that Christ secured our place in the hereafter, purchasing our souls with his blood and ensuring that we can always feel the connection with our Heavenly family.
The world, of course, would pull us in the opposite direction. But there is no mistaking that inner voice, the foreboding sense we feel when we make a wrong choice, and the peaceful, comforting sense when we choose what’s right. With every day and every activity, we can make wise choices that bring serenity and holiness. We can tap into that homing instinct, that innate sense that we’re heading in the right direction when we follow Christ.
None of us travels through mortality in a bubble of perfection. We all fall short, sin, and require the Savior to help us get home again. But, like the Prodigal children we all are, we have every hope that we can be forgiven. We can experience a true change of heart and anticipate a wonderful reunion where loved ones fall upon our necks and hold us in a tight embrace. This. This instinct is what every one of us feels, pulling us along in the right direction.
Hilton’s books, humor blog, and Youtube Mom videos can be found on her website. She currently serves as an Interfaith Specialist for Public Affairs.