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.