Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Thoughts on Home

Home, let me come home. Home is wherever I'm with you. - Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros

But our citizenship is in heaven. - the Apostle Paul

Today's post was supposed to be about Eddie Vedder or the beginnings of a Charismatic/Pentecostal theology, but when I woke up my thoughts were strongly drawn to home. There are a lot of portrayals of home throughout culture.

Zach Braff's Garden State has a pretty interesting line about home and family: "You'll see when you move out it just sort of happens one day, one day and it's just gone. And you can never get it back. It's like you get homesick for a place that doesn't exist. I mean it's like this rite of passage, you know. You won't have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it's like a cycle or something. I miss the idea of it. Maybe that's all family really is. A group of people who miss the same imaginary place."

An imaginary place. Sounds a little existential and postmodern, if not despondent and pessimistic. But I think Braff actually hints at something that is important about home. How I would say it is home is the intangibles. Home isn't a bunch of walls, windows and doors that help us shield us from the elements. Home is identity and cohesiveness. Home is security and memories. It is sometimes not a place.

Ask many artists and they will tell you that home for them is in their music or when they are in the act of  sculpting. Same goes for athletes. How many times have we heard an athlete say that they never felt more at home than on the basketball court, the football field or the racetrack? How many more have we heard say that their sport or art was a refuge away from what went on back where they lived? Home for them was actually a place away from where they slept at night.

I remember around my junior or senior year of high school I began to go through that real angsty part of life that we are all seemingly required to go through. Thoughts of blowing this small town were rampant. I couldn't wait to get out of Florence, Texas, where people obviously didn't understand me. And when I made something of myself, boy were they going to be surprised, because I was golden, but simply overshadowed because those other guys and gals were more athletic and that is all that anyone cared about here. (Side note...yes, I did in fact grow up in a town smaller than 1000 people.)

For a lot of people those thoughts are rampant. Some never change. I am one of those that did...and apparently so are a lot of filmmakers. Think how many movies, like Sweet Home Alabama for instance, tell the story of going home and waking up to the fact that it is actually a great place. It is a common theme in our lives. It's just what happens to us over time. We appreciate home. It means more for some reason.

This house to me represents home. I lived there, I guess around two years. I shared this house with TJ, Nathan, Erik, Steve, Adam, Joy, Laurie, Flo, Tammy and I think one or two others. This house is where I spent significant time with Jonathan and Adrienne, Betsy, the Greens and numerous others. I hosted parties there. I broke up with a girl there (terrible I know, but home isn't ALL good). It was also a place where we shared migas and "invented" bacon pancakes. It was just a good solid home.

But the reason for it representing home instead of where I grew up in Texas was simply this: the formative nature of what went on in my life at that time made this place home. I am, and will always be a Texan, through and through. But in California I found a home because I reconciled who I was, what I did and what that looked like. A lot of my "California sojourn" was simply about these things. It was an important season of life. It made me examine issues such as family, faith, community and the Gospel. California is where I learned to be self-sufficient and paradoxically understand my need for others. In this house is where I learned to fight making mistakes.

And as I talked about in the previous post it is where I learned to reconcile the intersection of academia and experiential, Charismatic faith. Fuller created a haven for someone working through their issues. I didn't have to hide certain parts of me in certain contexts. I was all me, all the time. And that is why this house and the couch on that porch looks like home to me. But as Braff's character Large is now an imaginary place of shared memories. I'm not naive enough to think that returning to that porch will solve anything now. It is pure symbol. And frankly, I'm fine with that. I'm fine with an imaginary home.

And that is why the words of a band like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros gets it right. "Home is wherever I'm with you." What I contend is home is about "you." Determining who or what that you is determines your home. If "you" always alludes you, you'll never be at home; you'll never be at rest. That may seem like an overstatement, but it can be seen in the lives of so many people. My friends Andrew and Rebecca hardly leave home these days. Once they found the "you" they were looking for they were pretty contented.

For me (spoiler alert: faith is kinda a thing of mine) home really can be anywhere. Theologians use this phrase to describe the way God interacts with the earth now: inaugurated kingdom. Basically it means God's presence on earth is before now and future. And that is how I view home. Home is both now and future. Home for me is Texas and California, Alabama and Pine Country Restaurant, with friends and family, on couches or in offices, playing guitar or reading a book. Home, for me at least, is being in and with God and a part of his and my families. And that doesn't restrict me to location.

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