Monday, June 26, 2006

Where Are You From?

"Where are you from?" This question is one that seems to have come up more often than usual in recent weeks.

I was born and raised in Small Town A in Midwestern State A. My dad had grown up in this community and my mom in the same state, though not that area. I recall only one home in that place, though technically we lived in two. (Having moved as a baby, it's hard for me to count that first house.) This place was my home for my first 18 years; it was "home home" during the next four years when I was in college (and first lived in Midwestern State B). It was even "home home" for the next two years until I married and moved permanently to Midwestern State B, my husband's home state. But yet, it was still "home"--at least another 3 years. Then my mom moved from that place, from that home, that town to another city in that state. And I now live in another small town in Midwestern State B.

But still, when I'm asked this question, "Where are you from?" the first thing that comes to mind is "Small Town A in Midwestern State A" or at the very least "Midwestern State A." I have to make a conscious effort to say, Small Town B in Midwestern State B." The place I live now is my home, but it's not where I'm from. When I traveled to the US-Mexico border, I met many people who would name a town when asked where they were from and then as conversation continued I would find that they had lived in another for many years or that the town they named was where their parents came from though they had never lived there. I could relate to this. The roads and streets, hills and trees, people and community of Small Town A are what shaped me, what formed me, what molded me, what made me who I am. That will always be where I'm from, no matter how long I live elsewhere.

My family recently traveled to Yellowstone National Park and while there, I realized how at home I feel in nature, in God's creation, not only in Yellowstone, but in other parts of the world as well. And I realize that perhaps the better answer of where I'm from is God. I am God's child, sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever. That's the home that matters--my home that is God's kingdom. But it's the church community of Small Town A that helped me discover this for the first time.

So when I'm asked, "Where are you from?" I'm still likely to answer, "I live in Small Town B, Midwestern State B, but I grew up in Small Town A, Midwestern State A. And you?"

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

No Words Part Two

In my last post, I commented that presiding over that funeral was by far the hardest thing I had ever done. I was wrong. This funeral was followed closely by a horrific car accident in which a young mother was given no hope of survival. I was present as her young children (6 and 9) visited her in ICU. I sat for 10 hours with her family as they extubated her and took turns saying goodbye and as her heart simply wouldn't give up easily and as she took her final breaths. I prayed with this family and was present with them. That was all I could do.

And then, due to circumstances beyond my control, I was not able to preside at this funeral, nor could I even attend. I'm not sure I could have found the words, but I wish I had had the opportunity. Maybe someday I'll find the words or the words will find me and then find a home on this page.

But for now, I'll release these events into God's hands and face the other realities of my life. I don't need to have the words right now, but I do need to live.