Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sacred Spaces, or, You Can't Go Home Again

I've spent the past several days helping my parents pack the home they've lived in for over 34 years so they can move to Tennessee. It's been an interesting experience to say the least, watching that many years of accumulation come forth, be remembered, and then judged worthy or unworthy. Odds and ends, relics of days gone by, and things remembered have all surfaced, many with varying sheens of dust and memory, being laid aside for travel or discarded just as easily.

And of course, the process has been more than just that. My parents are moving to a place that is nowhere near where we live. Save for a brief time that I lived in Jacksonville, it's gonna be the biggest distance they've ever been away, something I'm sure I've taken for granted for the past years. And I know it's their dream and that we'll keep in touch, etc, but it's still kind of weird and is sort of tough, particularly where I've been able to be of some help to them while they've been here where, when they're up there, I certainly can't be.

But this week, something else hit me that I wasn't necessarily prepared for. As I sat in the backyard around a small bonfire burning up some last woody odds and ends for my Dad, I was struck with how much I was going to miss that land as well. Now, missing my parents will be paramount but, it's odd how much that acre and a bit more really does resonate within my being, even now. That's land that I worked on, played on, bled on, cried on. It's the land where I learned to throw a football, to ride a bike, to throw a castnet, and to shoot a BB gun. It's the place where GI Joe overtook a horde of evil Jedi forces to save the day and where friends and I spent every waking afternoon and weekend in the hot sun honing our volleyball skills. It's the place of memories, of peace, and of home. And it's sacred to me.

Throughout the Bible I've always read about how God would do something for the people of Israel and He would instruct them to build an altar of rembrance to Him there, something to set that place aside as a holy place, a place to be remembered that He was there. For a long time, I never really understood that. I mean, I got the idea, sure, but the full meaning I didn't, at least not until recently. And now, as I stand in the place of watching this hallowed piece of land pass from our family to another's, I understand. I understand why people would want to consecrate a piece of land remembering the good times and the bad, and ultimately the deliverance of the Savior. Now I get it.

The painful part is that, as the old saying goes, "You can't go home again." And I can't. Friday Mom and Dad close on the house and are on their way to Tennessee. The bags are packed, the cars are loaded up, and they'll be gone and the land will no longer belong to our family. But, all the same, the memories will still be ours to cherish, the lessons learned still with us, and the love and joy shared something to be passed on to our new family and friends in new locales. Thus, I suppose another old saying shall reign, "Home is where the heart is." Amen.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Confronting Community

I've been finding myself struggling against the idea of community as of late and I don't know why. I'm sure part of it stems from past experiences, areas where I've felt hurt and exposed and those are surely understandable. The other side, I'm sure, stems from those other areas where I still struggle with petty insecurities and personal failures too. Again, understandable. Yet, are they understandable? Is it fair?

It's not as though I'm shunning the idea of community; rather, I long for it. Our recent experiences in our home alone remind me of how much I love and care being a part of something that's bigger than ourselves as we've had friends and family galore over for get togethers, reunions, and celebrations. Being a part of those experiences has been wonderful, seamless, and encouraging.

But the area where I'm finding myself struggling yet again is in the area of church. And it's an ironic struggle because I really like the church that we've found. It's a wonderful, open, encouraging, intelligent, and forward-thinking and moving group of people that really have a heart for God and others. But still I struggle. And why? I'm just not sure. I'm not sure if I'm petrified that my gifts have been tainted by missuse or by complacency or if I'm just simply scared of being hurt again. I just don't know...

Yet, I know that this is a hurdle that I've got to overcome. For my family, for my kids, for my Lord. I've got to overcome this.

I wish I could return to the ways of childhood, when community came so simply. I was reminded of how simply this past couple of weeks as my son stayed with my parents during the days that we had to work during his Christmas break. Some other kids next door to my folks were off and, each and every day, those kids, as though drawn together by some internal magnet, found Tyler and the group spent those days playing until I arrived and even after. And what did they have in common? They were kids out of school, essentially. That's it. And they became the best of friends for those days, vanquishing the forces of darkness with sticks and play swords, defeating the hordes of evil with Nerf guns and pretend grenades.

And yet I struggle with fully fusing myself into community as part of the body of Christ, with whom I have that much more in common. And why? I'm not sure...