We are moving again this week. It was only a year ago that I said "not again". It was only a year before that that I said "not again". We haven't even moved our boxes yet and I am once again saying "not again". And yet I know this is probably not true. We did go 11 years in the same house a few years back before our nomadic tendencies have kicked back in. It seems to be getting worse instead of better. Last year we moved one block. This year we moved one building. Next year I anticipate taking over our next door neighbors I guess.
Walking down through my neighborhood this morning it all hit me square in between the eyes. Passing new apartment complexes rising right before my eyes, I thought back to these past few months. Here is the summation of our recent experiences. We signed on to move into a bigger unit with some much desired outdoor space. Our faith community is looking for new space in anticipation of new apartments being built in its place. Let's be honest, at the rate we are going, we may be back as some of its first tenants. I recently ended a year on staff with a local homeless shelter. We just spent some time back in New York staying with friends who have just completed their new house build this past year. We wandered around and took pictures of some of our previous residences while we were there, some which haven't changed much and some suffering signs of the 15 -20 years that have passed since we lived in them. I passed the street that I spent my first 4 years of life on. Last weekend we visited friends who recently bought a new home across the water. Next week we will be celebrating our grandsons birthday in a home that they recently moved into. Apparently, stability is not part of our story. We even had the recent animated movie "Home" as our inflight entertainment on our way to New York. As I write this, hundreds of people, just across the mountains are having their definitions of "home" challenged as they evacuate even as dozens of "homes" are being consumed by raging wildfires.
All of this has continued to challenge and refine my definition of home. A number of years ago, after sharing some of my thoughts on a need to re-think my idea of home and how perhaps I was not supposed to feel "home" until I was actually called home in the final sense, an older gentleman in the congregation observed that this line of thinking may not be appropriate for a "pastor" called to care for a faith community. I hold that question in the back of my mind even as I remember that, ironically, he was called home not all that long after our conversation. Perhaps the best legacy that I can leave is that, as the old hymn goes, "this world is not my home, I'm just a passin thru". I mean really, I live life in pursuit of Jesus who was basically homeless during his ministry years. What else can I expect?
Spending this past week loading and now tripping over dozens of moving boxes, I'm trying to figure out whether home is the stuff in the boxes or the rooms that the boxes are sitting in. Honestly, a good deal of the stuff could stay in the boxes and I'd not miss it ... just ask the stuff already boxed and sitting in our storage area for the past year. On the other hand, within a few weeks, the only thing that I'll miss about the rooms that the boxes sit in is the incredible view of downtown that we've been blessed with for this past year. So I don't think its exclusively either. It may be a combination I guess, but after celebrating 31 years of being married to the love of my life this week, even while packing for another move, I know for certain that I could have the best view and the best collection of stuff and it would not be home with out her. If the question of "home" referred only, as is the case for so many, to this life, then undoubtedly my home is wherever she is. However, as one who has faith in a life yet to come and Jesus who waits there, I would have to hold on to still being homeless. Like me, my permanent place is still under construction.