Saturday, November 13, 2010

There's No Place Like Home

Well, It's mid-November, and for some miraculous reason, the THOUSANDS of snow geese in our area know that now is the time to migrate to warmer climates. At just about any time during the day you can look overhead and see the sky filled with geese getting out of town. They aren't being quiet about it either. The air is filled with their cacophony of high pitched shrieks. It's amazing and kind of eerie at the same time. How do they know where to go? How do they know when to stop? How will they know when they find home? Snow geese mate for life, so wherever they go, they go with their partner.

Home is an important place--especially when it's cold outside. It's somewhere that I know I'll be warm and safe, but it's more than that. It's where my family is. It's a place where I can hang around in my pajamas, forget about putting on makeup and no one will vote me off the island. I have a lifetime membership with this clan--warts and all.

Although the gift of immediate family is a wonderful thing, it isn't static. It grows. It shrinks. It changes. As much as I would love to hang onto the status quo for my own comfort, I cannot. In the last year I have moved away from two of my adult children who now have spouses of their own. My head knew this was a good thing, but somehow I felt a sense of homelessness within myself as I said my goodbyes and boarded a plane. I had temporarily lost my "happy place" on the inside of me and I felt lost.

As I have ruminated and adjusted to life in a new location, I've come back up to the surface with a deep appreciation for another family that I'm a part of: The family of God. The town where we moved is filled with people who love God and have shown it over and over again by the way they have embraced the smaller version of our family and helped us settle in every way possible. Even though these people aren't immediate kin, they have shown care and concern for my family's safety and wellbeing. Their love has provided a safe place to be when thing's have felt cold and unsettling on the outside.

Family is powerful. It's the vessel that God chose to usher Jesus into the world when it was very cold and dark outside. Even though Jesus is now preparing a forever-home for me in heaven, His Spirit lives inside of me here on earth and I'm never separated from His presence. No matter what changes, no matter where I go, the presence of God is always with me. That's my real home--that's my happy place.

Last Sunday was baptism Sunday in church. The whole service was dedicated to baptizing 5 people. The room was filled with family and loved ones of those about to be baptized. As one particular young man took his turn to be baptized he told how he grew up without parents and was tossed back and forth in the foster care system until he finally landed with a Christian family who kept him and introduced him to salvation in Jesus. He spoke about how the faith he has found in Jesus and the friends he has made at church and college have given him a place to belong that he never had. There was hardly a dry eye in the house. As the young man came up out of the water from baptism, the pastor lovingly wrapped a terry cloth robe around his dripping-wet body and said, "Welcome Home!"