Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Homeward Bound

For some reason, I am more nostalgic for the place I grew up in the summer than any other time of year. Sometimes the feelings are stronger than others. This is from July of 2006 when the feelings started to hit me. The title came from the song of the same name by Simon and Garfunkel and today is Paul Simon's birthday!

I went home last week. I guess home is accurate but it's a nebulus term. My folks moved from my hometown in Nebraska when I was in college. We were transplants so no relatives were left behind. In the intervening years, I've stayed away. Oh, I passed through two or three times, the last circa 1990. I even spent two nights there with friends in 1983 as I returned to watch my parents receive an award. But I've resisted reunions and alumni get-togethers. We moved there when I was four; I recall the day we pulled into town, an overcast August afternoon. It was the first place I really remember and this small town became the center of a little boy's universe. As I grew up, I spent no energy consciously soaking up my surroundings. Things just were- the houses we lived in, the two school buildings where I was educated K-12, the church building where Dad preached and I played, the fields and courts where I learned to compete, the grocery store where I worked, the people I reached adolescence with simultaneously. Before I recognized what was happening, it was over and I had moved far away, both physically and emotionally.

I can't say when nostalgia kicked in but sometime in the spring, I made the decision to take a peek at my childhood. After spending a week with my folks in St. Louis, I made the five hundred mile drive to York, Nebraska without any idea of what I would do when I got there. Where do you start? The most organized plan I had was to simply drive around and see what would happen. There were several immediate discoveries. Everything was smaller than I remember- the homes, the schools, the basketball courts. I had forgotten that all the streets were paved by brick. The neighborhoods seemed shadier due to the growth of trees in the time of my absence. Many businesses were in different locations and some had disappeared but there was plenty of new industry. I braked automatically at a 4-way stop in front of my old elementary school...and found that is a thru street now. The saddest moment came when I witnessed how my favorite of the four houses we lived in is crumbling from the foundation upward. (On the bright side, the basketball goal which Dad put up in the late 1960's is still solidly attached to the garage. How many late nights did I shoot baskets in that driveway, annoying my neighbors who never said anything?) No one recognized me at the church where my father had been the first minister. In fact, only one person recognized me but that led to seeing a number of adults I spent childhood with, the highlight of the two days. I was fascinated to see who they had become since high school. Tony is in the process of running marathons in all fifty states. Marcia writes wonderful features for the local newspaper. Lonnie's wife has MS and he is so tender in his care for her. I could go on and on. My friends, some who I've known since age five, all still have family in York. I wonder how my life would have turned out if my folks hadn't moved. My classmates all seem happy in the place where they were raised and undoubtedly, I would have been the same. Houston is such a long way from Nebraska but distance doesn't diminish memories. I think the Lord put a longing in us to have a permanent home. Maybe that's why older Christians actually seem to welcome the inevitability of death. One promise made by the Son of God, in John 14, even states that the Father and the Son will come and make their home with the believer. That home won't fall apart or get old. It won't have death or see its inhabitants move away. And it won't have an old wooden basketball basket anchored in front of a rickety garage.

Applicable quote of the day:
"You can't really go home in the same way. The place is not the same. It's changed. You've changed."
Sela Ward


God bless,
Luke 18:1

E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com


Sherry Ann said...

My family, my parents are still in our home where my siblings and I grew up. However, it is almost 14 years now that I never lived with them. I left home when i was 17 for university. I have to admit that most often that not, I can not recognize the people and neighbors we had. They seem to be happy staying in our small "village" and I sometimes reflect could it be better for me as well? Less hassles, more simple life?

God's plan for us is something we could not even imagine. He has a purpose why He sent us where we at now. =)

Bren + Lucy said...

Beautiful - I am trying to get my mother in law to leave her home after nearly forty years - I wish we had moved her earlier.