You’ve all heard the words. You’ve probably said them, years ago. Everyday, around the world, children say them to parents, to strangers, to doctors, and to policemen. There’s something comforting about home; it’s a place where we can relax and know that we are safe.
When a child–any child–says the words, we understand and sympathize. But the person in front of me wasn’t a child, by any standard of measure.
Miss Peggy was over ninety years old. She had been on her own in the world for many years; a spinster lady who gave her life to serve her God. She lived alone, but had influenced thousands of children with the Bible classes she taught for fifty years in Oklahoma and Arkansas. Now, here she was, old and nearly blind, hard of hearing. and dependent on friends who came daily to help her through the long, dim days.
She sat in her comfortable chair and said the words. “Paul, I want to go home.”
I knew what she was talking about, but pretended not to comprehend.
All I said was, “You are home. This is your house. You have your things here.”
She brushed the words aside. “No!” She was defiant. “I want to go to my real home!”
I found myself casting around for the right words, but none came. Later, as I left, I thought to myself, “Why would anyone want to die? I want to live!”
I can still remember when I talked with her some weeks later about one of her friends, slightly younger than she, who had passed away.
She looked through me with her almost sightless eyes and said, almost angrily, “It wasn’t her turn! Why does she get to go and I have to stay?”
If she hadn’t been so serious, I would have laughed. I had a vision of school days, with a line of kids waiting to get ice cream after lunch.
“No fair! She cut the line! It’s not her turn, it’s mine!”
The vision faded and Miss Peggy, her head tipped a little to the side, still gazed past me and said again, wistfully, “I want to go home.”
The dear lady has been home for many years now, and I still think about her words.
Funny…I’m starting to understand her a little better. Life here is good. I enjoy my family immensely; I love every single occasion on which we meet. I love my church; love my work; love the town in which I live. But, I’m starting to realize, just a little, that there is something not quite right.
I recall the times when as a child, home was a place of comfort and shelter from a scary world, and that’s all I needed. I reminisce about early days of marriage to the Lovely Lady and remember the satisfaction of being at home with her and later, with our children. Home was enough; nothing else was necessary to satisfy. It has been so for many years.
Something tells me it won’t stay that way forever.
I saw recently that the Encyclopaedia Britannica is not ever going to be offered in print again. After 244 years in print, the reference library is now only available online. The reality of the information age in which we live is that we want instant and up-to-the-minute facts, not outdated words on a page printed a couple of years ago. The publisher is admitting that the beautiful sets of books which found a home on the bookshelves and in the libraries for so many years, will now have a new home, albeit a nebulous one, in cyberspace.
I couldn’t help but think as I heard the news, that we certainly live in a transitory world. Always have, always will. In the business arena, we’re constantly warned to be agile and light on our feet. If we get slow and languorous, we’ll not only be out of a home, we’ll be out of existence.
All things change.
The same might be said of our entire lives. A Greek philosopher, who lived five hundred years before Jesus, put it this way, “Nothing endures but change.” His words still resonate today.
I’m not sure why we don’t (or won’t) see the truth of it while we’re still young. Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be, but I vividly remember wondering why the old men in church were so anxious for the Second Coming, and why they sang that old song that said, “This world is not my home.”
This world was too my home! I wanted to live! A long life!
Now, a few years have passed and I have more than a sneaking suspicion that they were onto something. Somehow, as I move along, I feel a growing certainty that we’re not made to be comfortable here.
There is something, somewhere that is better and I want to point the prow of my ship in that direction.
The will to live is strong in us. Our Creator made it so.
I’m not telling you I’m going to start sighing and wringing my hands about a better place. This is the place that I’m intended to be right now and I am content with that. But I’m not going to get too comfortable here.
I think I’ll stay light on my feet and ready to move.
After all, my treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the Blue…
“…they are eager for a better land, a heavenly one…He has now prepared a city for them.”
“I am prepared to go anywhere, provided it be forward.”
(David Livingstone~Scottish missionary~1813-1874)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved.
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