As a kid, home was a pretty simple concept. I (Alan) grew up in the same house for 18 years, spent my time with the same people most of those, and could find my way around pretty well in the dark.
Since then some things have changed.
In the last three months, Finn spent the night in eight different states, three different countries, and is now setting up camp 8,500 miles away from the only place he’s ever known as home.
So where is home for Finn? Where is home for us?
The old cliches don’t do much justice on the subject:
“Home is where the heart is,” sounds nice, but doesn’t help much when the heart is torn between so many places and people, torn between dusty roads and paved ones, noisy games with the family and lightning storms watched in silence with a friend.
Even the Christian adage that “Our Home is in Heaven” somehow feels a bit empty in the present. Sure, I want to say, but what about in the meantime?
Now don’t get me wrong – I firmly believe that we should always live with eternity in mind – that so many of our pursuits are so earth-centered and time-bound that we’ve often lost sight of what truly matters. But just because heaven is our home doesn’t mean that this place – right here, right now – can’t be home too.
The author of Ecclesiastes says as much, I think, in his typically riddled way: “I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
That is our task, the Teacher reminds us: to discover what God has made beautiful in the time that is now. To find home – we might say – wherever we are.
Perhaps Emily Dickinson got it best (she has a knack for that) when she wrote in a letter to a dear friend, that “Home is the definition of God.”
I’m still working out what that means for me, for my family, now that we’ve returned to the Highlands of Papua New Guinea – but surely it means something good.