Going Home

“When a man leaves home, he leaves behind some scrap of his heart. Is it not so, Godric? . . . It’s the same with a place a man is going to. Only then he sends a scrap of his heart ahead.”

~ Frederick Buechner

How do you find your way home again? It’s easier if you ever had a home to begin with. As a boy growing up in Port Arthur, home meant private time in my own bedroom, family meal time around the kitchen table (with the exception of Dad, who ate in his recliner with plate balanced on belly and paper napkin tucked under his chin), baseball with friends in the backyard, the independence of riding my bike to school, summers playing in Groves American Little League, and, much later, sitting in our high school football stadium stands awaiting my turn to walk across the makeshift stage and bring closure to the previous 12 years of public education. Home was my first car (1965 Rambler Classic), my first date, first job, my first anything and anywhere. One dictionary defines it as a place where something flourishes, is most typically found, or from which it originates. In a very real way, home is whatever convinces that you belong. People are the best at doing that–mom, dad, sister, best buddy, favorite teacher, childhood nemesis, pastor, coach, next door neighbor–a human mosaic that sounds, looks, and feels like home.

What’s really odd is that the young spend their time trying to leave home while the old occupy their twilight years trying to find their way back. My favorite song as a teenager was the Haggard classic “Ramblin’ Fever,” but my favorite tune these days sounds a lot like “There’s No Place Like Home.” What we’re all searching for is a center, a fulcrum on which to fix our equilibrium, but we do not know this. We try to match the emotional attachments of our childhood with things that were never meant to satisfy our God-given longing. It is good theology to insert here that Christ is our Center, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Magnetic north is something you can’t see; instead, what you observe is the needle that points that direction. In a similar way, home is our earthly needle – a person or persons that help orientate us toward the Center. This explains why familial conflict is so destructive — we lose our bearings because we lose the very thing God intended to point us toward him. Some never find it again. Some think they do only to discover that what they thought was home is in reality a place where they don’t belong or an experience that savagely disappoints. Blessed is the man or woman who experiences the grace of loving and being loved by someone who moves them back toward the Center. Thomas Wolfe was wrong, you can go home again. When you find your way back, you will discover that home is a person pointing you still further back to Christ.

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