After two days of working in the yard, I found a place to sit on the steps leading up to the back door. My muscles were sore and I was physically exhausted. As I held the glass of ice water in my hands and paused to look at the fruits of our labor – the table and chairs cleaned and set out on the patio, the annual plants in the pots, the shrubs and perennials trimmed and cleared – it occurred to me that in the past 4 years I have not had a chance to sit and savor the beauty of my back yard. I’ll be receiving my masters degree in a couple of weeks (the fruit of many hours of hard work, as well!) and during these recent years the reading, writing papers, and going to class has been the primary focus.
As I surveyed the yard, I noticed that a tree right near the patio had four years worth of new growth, something I had not paid attention to lately. The peonies we planted a few years back are thriving in their spot. The patio chairs are more worn than I remembered… because in my mind’s eye it seems as if we just brought them home from the store, when the reality is we’ve had them for more than four years.
It sounds strange as I attempt to articulate it here, but my awareness as I sat on the steps became focused on coming home. Coming home does not necessarily mean walking through the threshold of the door of the some physical house somewhere.
Coming home can mean having lunch with a friend I see once a year or less. When we are in the other’s company, somehow it as if no time has passed. We could be sitting on a park bench in a city far from our homes, in a place neither of us has ever been. Each of us knows the rhythm of the conversation, neither of us feels awkward, and we know each other’s souls, even if we would not articulate it that way.
Coming home can mean giving something up for Lent, and, once Lent is over, we are aware of its recent absence in our lives, and we savor and appreciate that thing for a week or two, but eventually, it as if we never left it behind.
Coming home can be something as profound as hearing and understanding your wife’s voice after she suffers an aneurysm. My friend who walks beside his wife during her recovery is very aware that his wife has not yet returned to their physical home. I would guess, though, that seeing her progress, hearing her voice, and feeling wonder at the miracles he witnesses in her recovery feels a bit like coming home.
Coming home can be as simple as an “I love you” at the end of a long-distance telephone call.
In the Emmaus story, at the end of the day, the two people invite Jesus into their home, and this is where they recognize him. They have been with him during the seven-mile walk, and they do not know it is him. They have heard him interpret the scriptures. They have described to him their despair. All of this took a long time! But they do not recognize him until he has come home with them.
For me, I feel a sense of coming home when I write for this blog. Every post is still uncomfortable for me. Every word is tentative. Most days, finding my voice here is difficult – it as if I don’t know where it is or how to find it. And yet… When I find my voice here in a graced way on a particular day, I am acutely aware that it is right, and true, and meaningful. This coming home is, for me, a coming home to God. I am comfortable here. I know God’s presence in each word, and God’s grace comes through loud and clear. I come home to the reality of God’s grace, and it is good. Not because I make it so, but because of this grace.
He appeared to be going further, but they constrained him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them.