Monday, April 3, 2017

Welcome Home!

I was reading a post written by my favorite columnist, Sharon Randall, and she asked questions that she asks of many she meets, "Where are you from?"....and...."How do you define home?  It set me thinking.  It has been on my mind in this senior season of our lives, a time of wanting roots while hungering for the more.  Desiring something new while making the effort to embrace what is.  Where is home?  What is home?  Randall defines home as where her people and land I pondered.

Joel grew up on the family farm, 1/8 mile from their country church.  Surrounding him were family and friends as far as the eye could see.  Yet at his mother's suggestion he left home at age 20 and headed down to The Lutheran Bible Institute smack in the middle of a big city.  We met there, graduated, married and headed out and away from anything or anyone we knew.

I moved a lot as a child, from house to house, town to town, state to state.  When I was three I called the car "home".  I expect it was a familiar place for me.  From age 12-18 I lived in a small three bedroom 1950's house with my newly defined family.  I moved in with my older sister and her husband in 6th grade and her children became my siblings while my two sisters remained my sisters. Complicated?  Not for me.  Even though I left home at 18 and have not lived there is 51 years, I can visualize every room, every closet, every corner of that house where I felt safe, loved, and happy. More than a few years ago now, that house was demolished along with many others that stood in a flood zone.  It rests in my memories.

After Joel and I married the Air Force sent us around the country and across the world.  When Joel became an ordained minister we continued to travel to new houses, new churches, new towns.  We enjoyed friends and congregations very much, but always put down shallow roots because we knew what the future held ~ another move.

Our children endured many moves with their parents.  I am not sure where our children call home, since none of them live where we reside.    Is it when we gather as a family once a year, or is is where they live and where each of them has put down roots, bypassing childhood visions of "home", for their people and land where roots run deep?   It makes sense.   Home is where the heart is............

And where does that put us?  We are coming up this month on the 21st year we have lived in this town. Joel has preached in 24 of the churches in the synod.  We have lived in three houses here, the last one for nearly 13 years.  Yet, our roots are still not very deep.  If a stranger asks us where we are from, my reply is "We are from Minnesota, but we live in Iowa for now."  No offense to those we know well here, but we have never felt this was a permanent place for us.

If you read my writings here, you know that this topic of where to call home, defining home, and seeking roots has pulled and tugged on us for awhile now.  Sharon Randall's questions stirred the waters, although to be honest our friends who, too soon for us, will venture out into a new definition of home, have inadvertently got us thinking again.  It does not take much.

So how do we define home?  Familiar land take us back to our hometowns, but we have been gone for over 50 years, only visiting briefly at times.  Mostly for us, home is defined with the people we love and care about.  Remember the siblings that came into my life at age 12?   "Home" has come with texting.  Crazy?  Maybe not so much.  When my older sister broke her back she was isolated often at home.  We all began texting to get information, but it continued on long after with a way to connect. We share pics, talk politics (we all lean one way), pass on information, and just chat.  A way to connect that has given me a feeling of "going home".   Roots run deep with them and my sisters who helped raise me.  Doubly blessed.

Joel and I talked yesterday about Randall's question, "Where do you call home?"  We both feel that home is where we both are.  Together.  There are always family roots that draw us in, on the farm, and in houses that reside now only in our memories.  There is always our family that brings a definition of who we are, and yet with circumstances and miles between,  in this season of our lives we are most drawn to each other.

I visited with the massage therapist today about her story.  I asked here if she has always lived here and she told me yes.  She even bought the house she grew up in and has lived there nearly 65 years.  I tried to fathom that.  I cannot, and honestly, it would not be on my bucket list.  Even thought it is not all roses by any means, I prefer a life of new adventures.  I guess we are all unique in the way we do life and where we live, but are we unique in how we define home?   I think my favorite columnist has it right.....home is mostly about the people we love and for some the land beneath our feet.

Where are you from?  How do you define "home"?  For some it may be an easy answer....for others complicated.  Whether you are are well rooted, or feel the pull and tug of desiring more,  we know without doubt our final home will be a place of continual joy, rest, glory, and Presence.  And when we arrive we will hear our Papa God say....."welcome home!"

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