Last night, Charlotte and I were taking the trash cans to the road. The garbage pick-up guys come this morning. For some reason, as we walked in the darkness back toward the garage, I said, "You know, we don't have little children anymore."
Every once in a while, I long for the days when they were little. When we were all together in our house. I've known other people who every once in a while begin to feel wistful about the home in which they grew up. They say that on occasion they would like to go back home and be a kid again.
In Lynn Anderson's book Longing for a Homeland, Lynn reminds us that home is not a place. Nor, is it a people. After all, people don't stay with us. Children grow up. Others eventually die. Yet, many of us wonder if we can't come to a place in life where just the right relationships with people will do away with loneliness forever. He quotes Henri Nouwen (one of my favorite writers):
We desire to break out of our isolation and loneliness and enter into a relationship that offers us a sense of home, an experience of belonging, a feeling of safety, and a sense of being well connected. But...when we are lonely and look for someone to take our loneliness away, we are quickly disillusioned. The other, who for a while may have offered us an experience of wholeness and inner peace, soon proves incapable of giving us lasting happiness, and instead of taking away our expectation that another human being will fulfill our deepest desires, the pain grows even greater when are confronted with the limitations of human relationships. (Nouwen, Here and Now, pp. 124-125)
Do you relate to this? I look back to wonderful memories:
- When Charlotte and I were with a young church and everything seemed so fresh and new.
- The sound of my grandmother (Searcy, Arkansas) humming and singing at 4:30 AM as she cooked her breakfast. As I write this, I can almost smell bacon and eggs.
- Hearing a screen door slam behind us as we walked out of the house with my grandpa (Monticello, Arkansas). It was December and usually cold. We were about to get in his pickup truck and head toward the fireworks stand.
- Being with our small children at Christmas. Hearing their laughter.
- Being with some of our closest friends in times that seemed less complicated.
What happens? Well--people grow up. They move. They die. Things change.
These moments never stay the same. I've learned they are like snapshots. These moments are here and then they are gone.
The one home that remains is the presence of God. Or as Lynn writes,
...home--real home--can be anywhere, any time. Home is not so much being present somewhere as it is a presence that can go with us everywhere. And yes, oh yes, it is still wonderfully possible to get back home again. (Anderson, p. 122)
Today, I want to live with a sense of God's presence--my real home. He will be with me everywhere. I will never be more at home than when I am with him and he is with me. He is unchanging. His love is perfect. In his presence, I can always be home.