Homecoming

One benefit of travel is the way it awakens our senses, stirs us to see new sights, taste new flavors and relish new adventures. I’ve long cherished travel, but also delight in the blessing of returning home.

Fans of scripture may well point out how Jesus said that, unlike the fox or bird, he didn’t have a den or nest. But in one of the inconsistencies that make him so intriguing, he laces his teaching with references to home: “In my Father’s house there are many mansions” (Jn. 14:2). “We will come to them and make our home in them” (Jn. 14:23). Perhaps he draws on his childhood experiences of bread rising, vineyards, cloth, shining lamps and flower gardens to teach with metaphors that ring warm and familiar to his listeners. 

This time, I’ve returned from an autumn visit where the maples blazed scarlet, the rain poured often and the temperatures were cold. Even more dear then, the return to a patio for lunch outside by a singing fountain draped with crimson bougainvillea, or basking on the couch in California sun, surrounded by pillows from Sonoma in fabric gold and blue with sunflowers.

With blissful independence, I make my own pot of coffee, not wrestling with someone else’s French press, inevitably producing a cup of sludge. The stash of ice cream, the books and music by the fire, all carefully chosen to reflect my particular taste await quiet solitude in which to enjoy them. One gift of the pandemic was learning to enjoy our solitude, discovering we were OK with empty calendars and no social commitments. Rooted and grounded, we were at home with ourselves, a surety we don’t want to lose as busier schedules resume. 

I know. Home is a luxury much of the world doesn’t have. But we’re talking a small and unspectacular sanctuary—the frig. surface overflowing with grandchildren’s art, the surfaces of tables rarely uncluttered. Kristin Hannah’s novel The Four Winds about terrible living conditions during the Dust Bowl taught me to appreciate a solid roof and floor, a bed and sheets. A little can be enough.

From past experience I know the initial delight wears off; we grow concerned with dusting and laundry, the tasks of maintaining the space. A slight tinge of boredom shadows that first thrill. But just at first, fresh from the airport, home is greatly savored.

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