Welcome to Big Old Goofy World . . . a place where I can share my thoughts, hopes, and dreams about this rock that we live on and call home.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Coming Home

"Homecoming means coming home to what is in your heart."
  (Author Unknown)
"You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it's all right."
(Maya Angelou)
"Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose."
  (From the television show The Wonder Years)

I have been thinking about "homecomings" lately.  Homecomings seem to come is all shapes, sizes, and occasions.   One of the greatest "homecoming" stories of all is the story of the Prodigal Son found in the Holy Bible--in particular, Luke 15:11-32.  If you have never read this story you should.  It is a poignant story that speaks of reconnecting and the love of family.  When I think of coming home, I think of this story.

The truth of the matter is there have been several "homecomings" lately that I have had the privilege of being a part of lately.  First there was the homecoming of our daughter's husband from his deployment to Iraq.  Though we missed our son-in-law we did not miss him as much as our daughter.  Throughout the deployment we spent a lot of time watching the pain of separation between the two--there were nights of loneliness and tears.  It pained us to see our daughter hurt in her loneliness.  Thus it was with great joy that we celebrated our son-in-law's return home.  Like the father in Luke's story we killed the fatted calf, broke out the best wine, and sat around the fire pit basking in the glow of reunion and reconnection.  Actually, because it was the daughter's birthday we had chicken-and-noodles over mashed potatoes--probably the best meal of the year!

Yet, not all "homecomings" a deal with actual coming home to a physical place--sometimes it is just reconnecting with those we love.  The second "homecoming" in the past month had to do with the wife's and mine's own prodigal son--our oldest child who lives in Fort Collins, Colorado.  The "prodigal child" is a strong-willed child who ventured off into life on his own, wanting no help, and hell-bent on enjoying life--sound familiar?  We honored his choice and stood by as witnesses to the consequences of those choices--they were all good.  Throughout this time there was minimal contact--minimal connection.  It was not easy watching the path he chose to journey down, but we stood from afar and patiently waited.  

Recently the prodigal has had a major change in his life--one that will effect his life until the day he dies.  Finally we received the call with the news and the consequences of his choices--a extremely difficult and heart-wrenching call that he had to make.  There were tears and sadness, a mixture of anger, and relief.  Yeah, relief.  The prodigal son had returned home--at least for the time being.  Since then we have had constant contact, lots of "I love you", and hope for the future.  Our son, our prodigal son, has come home and we rejoiced to be reconnected once again.

The last "homecoming" is a mixture of sadness and joy as it involves a death.  It involves our youngest son and his significant other--her step-father died of cancer this past week.  It had been a long battle that her step-father waged for many years, but the cancer finally won out.  Though the wife and I only met the man once, I can honestly say that I was impressed.  Not so much by his presence in that one meeting, but in his treatment of our son.  The man welcome our youngest into the family, treated him as one of his own, and expressed a deep love for him.  Tomorrow we go down to Sheridan, Wyoming for his "celebration of life"--for his funeral.  He has come home--a home that his family wished for him, that many prayed for him, and now he has finished the journey.  It is an honor to be a part of his "homecoming".  I wish I had had the opportunity to know him better--anyone who can put up with our youngest has to be a pretty good guy!

We all come home . . . eventually.  Sometimes it is a physical homecoming, other times it is an emotional homecoming, but we all eventually come home.  Sometimes it is in time, sometimes it is too late.  In my own life I think I have missed some opportunities to "come home", and for those missed opportunities I feel regret.  Life is too short for not taking advantage of those opportunities to reconnect with where the heart longs to be.  For each and every homecoming let us be thankful--no matter how painful they might be.  Let us rejoice in re-disccovering that which binds us together.  As the old hymn says:

Blessed be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like that to that above.
 Before our Father's throne
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one
Our comforts and our cares.
  We share each other's woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.
When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.
This glorious hope revives
Our courage by the way;
While each in expectation lives,
And longs to see the day.
From sorrow, toil and pain,
And sin, we shall be free,
And perfect love and friendship reign
Through all eternity.

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