As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love.- John 15:9
From the ages of eight to thirteen I lived in a small house by a lake with a poplar tree in the back yard. It’s where my family lived when my brother was born. Through countless hours of playing “airplane” with bowls of mashed peas and taking walks to the candy store with my brother’s small hand pressed in mine, this is where we lived when I discovered the joy of making someone else happy could be more desirable than doing what I wanted.
My family lived in this house during the worst of my father’s mental illness and drug abuse induced rages that ended with him taking every penny we had and leaving.The tree and the lake in our backyard were two of the greatest loves of my life so far and when my mother, brother and I moved into a new house with my Grandfather, it was an exile I still feel like a lost limb.
Out of all of the places I’ve lived, this is the house that appears regularly in my dreams. My sleeping mind has convinced me repeatedly that my adult family is moving there, often times secretly, without a deed. Now and then the lake will come looking for me while I sleep. One night it turned into ice and pressed through the floor boards of my apartment, yellow with bog iron and full of leaves.
I keep going back to that house like someone looking for missing keys. I don’t know what the keys unlock but if I could figure it out I know I would finally be able to come home.
The Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh talks about how in Vietnam married people refer to each other as “my home”. If you ask someone where his wife is in Vietnam you might hear “My home is at the grocery store” or “visiting a friend.” It helps me to think that, despite what my dreaming brain tells me, home isn’t buried in a particular location or time.The home we all seek is in a living relationship.
If you think back to a time when you were waiting and finally saw the outline of your child or lover coming towards you on a crowded street you might even now be able to feel your chest open up and your face relax into a smile. There are times you aren’t really yourself until claimed by the outstretched arms of someone who loves you.
I guess that’s why God decided to physically come into the world looking for you, trying to establish eye contact in every love you’ve ever known and even in every grief where your love traces the outline over and over again, searching for a person no longer there. That home sickness is a reminder that you don’t belong to yourself alone.
Your real home in Christ.