For most folks, they do.
I’ve mentioned before that I didn’t really experience Christmas as a child. We took a different path as a family and didn’t celebrate the holiday. Perhaps I’ll spend some time on that subject again—perhaps not. All it means to this discussion is that I have no childhood Christmas memories calling me back home.
Still, my mind drifts back again.
I can’t help it. Events and family decisions are conspiring to draw me back to the place I still call home, in spite of nearly forty years of being away. And, in the midst of planning for one last trip home—one last chance to say goodbye—my head is alive with memories.
They are memories of a home filled with love and music. They are also memories of the same home filled with sibling rivalry and loud arguments, lasting late into the night, about every subject you could imagine. A lifetime ago in that home, my brothers, sister, and I developed from awkward, dependent little brats into strong, responsible adults (for the most part).
Denim jeans worn through at the knees and patched by a red-headed lady—muttering and shaking her head all the while—play a part in the memories. So too, do wool sweaters crocheted by the same red-headed lady—this time, smiling and humming at her work.
The events that shaped the humans we are today are still in our heads, just waiting to be captured by the fickle net of memory and brought to the surface at any moment.
They’re not all happy memories. Then again, for me, they’re not mostly sad ones either.
I’ll take one last trip home.
Closure. The long chapter will be finished.
Somehow though, during this Christmas season, interlaced with the weaving of denim and wool memories of that long-ago home has been the sheer and silky fabric of a home I have not yet been to.
I’ve never been there, but lately it feels more like home than any place to which I’ve ever given that name. Perhaps, it’s because the red-headed lady who raised me has moved there within the last year.
I don’t think it’s only that. I don’t think it’s even mostly that.
The realization hit me just this week, as I joked with a customer in my business. I haven’t been feeling well for a day or two and my plaintive reply to his casual query about my general well-being led him to say the words.
“Well, it’s better than the alternative.”
I started to nod in agreement, but suddenly it occurred to me.
No. It’s not.
The realization was like an electric shock. I don’t want to stay here one second past time to go home. Not an instant.
Home is the place we are aiming for. It’s the ultimate goal of our labor and living here.
I told him so. He didn’t want to talk about it anymore. I wonder why?
My mind wanders a bit further afield. Suddenly, I’m thinking about Him. You know who I mean. The Baby—the One whose birth we’ll celebrate in a few days. He left home.
It was a big deal. Home was better. Really better.
Still, He left home. For us. To teach us. To touch us. To save us.
To take us home with Him—so we could be with His Father.
Funny. I suddenly remember why I mostly want to go home.
To be with my Father.
Yes, the red-headed lady who raised me will be there. She’ll be there, along with many others I want to see again. A lot.
But, I want to be with my Father.
In a week or so, I’ll turn my face toward my old home. Even then, My face will be toward my real home.
It’s out there still. Just up ahead.
I can almost see the lights from here.
Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.(Hebrews 11:16 ~ NIV)
Strengthen us to go on in loving service of all thy children. Thus shall we have communion with thee, and, in thee, with our beloved ones. Thus shall we come to know within ourselves that there is no death and that only a veil divides, thin as gossamer.
(from a prayer by George MacLeod ~ Scottish soldier/clergyman ~ 1895-1991)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved.