There aren’t a lot of positives about losing your childhood home, losing the ability to “be home” for Christmas or whenever you crave it.
But, there is at least one and it is this: Home ceases to be a place and becomes something intangible, an elusive feeling that washes over you like warm sun through leaves. Warm. Soft. Safe. Lovely. Held.
There are moments in life where you take a breath and suddenly realize that you’ve come home.
I can’t perfectly plan these homegoings and I don’t fully understand them, but I know that it has everything to do with Soul nourishment and feeling safely known.
Yesterday was a home-going for me as I returned to the church of my twenties, the one where I began to make own my faith and grow into it. Where it all came together and fell apart again.
For years I pulled my battered navy Saturn into the busy parking lot and walked through the doors to take my usual spot, near my friends, behind the drum pit.
Today I parked my aging mini-van into the same lot and walked through the same doors. But this time, each of my hands held that of a small child and together navigated our way down the long hallways and through our first check-in with the children’s area.
As we walked, I ached for Kel, the missing soul in our Sunday quartet….
After settling them in their respective rooms I walked alone for once, completely thrilled at the prospect of sitting through church without my kids for the first time since April.
I didn’t even feel the smallest pang of guilt about not being a pew parent or desiring my children at my feet in worship.
I love that this concept is working so well for some of you, but every Sunday we’ve attempted it, I’ve returned to the van in tears after spending the entire service keeping my children entertained and hushed.
Our family likes to break up on Sundays, big church and kid’s church. We do life together all week and we have different learning styles on Sunday. We’ve accepted this fact and we’re done feeling guilty about it.
Okay, back to my story.
My eyes welled with tears the instant I settled into the plastic, gray chair. Partly because I was available to meet God just as I was (a soul that extends beyond the parameters of motherhood) and partly because I felt like home.
As I waited for the service to start, the theater or my mind began to play my History in this place.
I saw myself with funky purple hair kneeling at the front with corduroy clad knees
Wearing a bandana and holding a guitar at a makeshift hoedown.
Walking slowly to the front in purple shorts and a T-shirt, being baptized alongside a new friend.
Praying with a pastor over my Mother’s illness and hospitalization.
Warming a similar gray chair the Sunday after we buried my father, weeping with grief.
This place has seen me lost, found, broken, pissed, smug and humble.
And now, here I am, back again to worship, my feet once again bare, naked and expectant on the gray, industrial carpet.
Back to join the community of the broken who gather together under a shared need for God.
A shared longing to serve him together as we lean on him to make sense of our lives and learn to live with him a rhythm of spirituality that was always meant to be more than just Sunday.
I thank God for this home-going and the faithful practice of finding me on Sunday mornings. It’s not because I went to church, to a jesus-themed building, it’s because I stilled myself to meet with him, something I’m terrible at outside the parameters of church.
In the past, my lips have uttered phrases similar to: ” I don’t need church to find God”
But these days? I really do because without it, I dry up. I’ve been burnt out and I’ve stayed away. I’ve been cynical and scared and angry, I don’t need church to survive or be more religious. I need it for my soul and spirit in the least religious way imaginable.
I need the words and familiar melody. I need the feeling of being in the midst of the people of God. I need the truest reminders of who I really am and what on Earth I’m doing with my life.
I needed a flood of home today, replete with the nourishment my soul was hungering for.
Then later that night I gathered with my family to celebrate my sister’s 30th birthday and you know what? That was church too, home certainly.
Is your church home for you? What expectedly brings you home?