Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Going Home

In some ways, the Lenten pilgrimage is a like a journey home. We walk toward the place where our end meets our beginning, where love answers love. But how do we go home?

I cannot go back home. Yes, I may travel back to the house of our childhood, but it is no longer home. Home exists not simply in space but in time as well. Echoes of home resound through my memories: a birthday party on a boat, the birth of my baby brother, a candlelight Christmas Eve in hushed wonder. But these are simply hauntings now, signs of what once was. They blow through my soul like wind across my face.

Since I cannot go back, I must go forward home. Sometimes I rush headlong. Other times I hesitantly tread like crossing slick stones over a flooded creek. In each step, the Father guides towards the place of the cross: the path of that great and wondrous homecoming.

From time to time, I catch glimpses, sightings of land, of home. In the breaking of bread, the sharing of suffering, the sweetness of celebration. As I walk, I listen to my traveling companion, the poet Rod Jellema. His words awake the longing ache of my heart. May they pierce you as well.

Travel Advisory
By Rod Jellema

Remind yourself, when you wake to a strangeness
of foreign lights through blowing trees
out the window of yet another hotel,
that home is only where you pretend you’re from.
What’s familiar sends you packing,
watching for “some lost place called home.”
You’re from wherever you go.

Don’t admit what you’re looking for.
If you say to a baker in Bremen, to a barmaid
in Provence, “Back home we think of you here
as having deeper lives,” they’ll shrug you wrong
and won’t respond. And then you’ll know:
they’re strangers too. Broken and wrinkled
stones and skin, brush strokes and chords,
old streets and saints you’ve read about,
flute-notes in the laughter of foreign children,
the nip of a local market cheese—
there’s a life we almost knew once.
Watch. Just let it in.

The return ticket will take you only
to the town where you packed to get on the plane.
It never missed you. You’ll notice
alien goods in your kitchen, wind in a wall,
losses in the middle drawer of your desk.
Even there, that dim outlandish civitas dei
you’re a citizen of never was a place.
Remember not to feel too much at home.

“Travel Advisory” from A Slender Grace by Rod Jellema.


Gordon and Marylyn Adams said...

This is gripping, Doug. I did a teaching series recently on "Longing For the Far Country." Loved the poem.

Gordon and Marylyn Adams said...

In your December post on the Christmas Spirit (which you also sent out by email), Milton Stanley posted a comment, and mentioned that he "linked" to your posting. How do you do that?