Even as I was recently saying "I'm coming home!" something in me wasn't settling with that. Part of me felt that Houston was home. There's a side of me that slides right into the ways of Texan ministry and big hair. Of big, well, everything. The big city. The hustle and bustle. The size of and amount of churches. It's the stuff I've been involved in for the last decade, but from a distance. I know Miss Beth and her lot like the back of my hand. I know how to do the Southern thang. I know the crowd. I've worked with them before. I feel like I can be contented there forever. I can rock those boots.
I return to Modesto and I immediately notice that there is a difference in culture.
And I feel completely at ease, speaking the language of all things Californian.....My clothing choices are considered normal again. I hike around the forest. I go to Yosemite. The familiar breath-taking beauty draws me in. Because my grandparents were forest rangers, I know the Sierra Nevadas like one knows their oldest of friends. It's in the blood. As we cruz along highways into the mountains I suddenly remember every curb and turn-off, the old unchanged land and stops that I spent my summers traveling as a child. And people here get it when I talk about needing to get "down south" as soon as humanly possible. They know I mean Disneyland. It's an unspoken around this state. And that alone feeds my overly-obsessed, child-like soul.
(They need a CR group for this Disney stuff. It's serious, people. Very, very serious!)
But oh, Northwest, how I love thee. When I attended Ecola I completely found a vibrant freedom in the ways of the hippie and the granola. In no make-up, plaid shirts, and Northface clothing. I am so drawn to herbal living and homesteading and healthy eating and the green and rain and growth and life and small communities and the friendliness of Washington and Oregon. I try to go at least once a year for a visit. My body and spirit always receive a rest there like I have nowhere else. It's more than just soothing and calming. It's breathing deep of renewal all the way down to my toes. And I never feel ready to return. I could absolutely settle there.
And then.....then. Then Africa. Oh, the beauty of her people! The glorious ways in which their spirit is strong, resilient, unbreakable, shining and glowing in consistent joy and the light of a culture as bold and beautiful as time. The ways of doing things. The order of priorities in society. The land. The wildlife. The music. The food. Within an hour of my first time there my heartbeat shifted to a new rhythm and I have longed for her since.
Here's the thing about all these places....
In each of them, there is always this nagging element of just not quite being fully what that place or culture is usually about. No matter where I am, I think about the other places. The other parts of me that don't fully resonate with the ground my feet are upon. And I sometimes begin to feel a bit out of touch and out of place. Wondering why I just never quite feel all in one spot. Or all about one spot. And curious as to whether anybody else feels this way often. It's nice to appreciate several different places. It just also causes me to feel kind of outcasted. Strange. Like a drifter. Wondering to myself "Where exactly might 'home' be?" Where might I find a place of haven and rest? Where might I know I can always return and fully crash into being the worn mess of a human I can so often be? Where is safe? Comfort? Warmth? The feeding of my spirit, heart, and soul? Where does healing take place? Where do I fully flourish in my giftings and ability to serve the Body in excellence? Where is my Eden?
It's with a bit of grief that I have to admit to myself I don't exactly have such a place.
Yes, that sets a bit heavy on my shoulders. Yes, that hurts rather deeply. It makes me want to freak out just a little bit. Until I remember something very special that I've known and clung to over the years......
I may not have that one place of comfort that I always seem to perceive everyone else to have and covet so strongly. I may not have a spot to call my own or a haven to run toward. Not in land. But what I have is oh so much richer than the soil of all the above places combined. What I have is the very true and real ability to say that without a doubt and without any other options, Jesus is my home. He is. He is all the things I long and ache for. He is my past, present, and future. He is my safety, hiding place, comfort, all of it! He knows every little thing that calms me, brings me peace and rest. He gets me. He understands the love of too many places and peoples all at once. The discomfort that can come with all this. Not everybody gets the privilege of saying that their home is literally just Jesus. In Jesus, things are so much bigger and better than they would be in any other place. And for that I am floored and thankful beyond measure. Should you ever hit a season of struggling with these things, remember the very real home we have in the Kingdom. Not just in our futures. But right now. Right here. And we can ask for it and live in it here. He is home. Because He is.