“I knew then that I wanted to go home, but I had no home to go to--and that is what adventures are all about.”
(Trina Schart Hyman)
After all of these years, you would think that I would be used to it by now. Used to the question of “where you from?” But, I am not. That has always been an uncomfortable question for me because it means I have to jump into storytelling mode . . . I have to go into the long explanation that I am a military brat who moved around a lot the first 21 years of his life . . . I have to explain that I am a member of that club known as ministers who have a tendency to move around a lot . . . explain that I can tell people where my parents were from, but outside of where I was born, I can’t really say where I am from . . . but, odds are, name a place and I have probably been there! Most people close their ears after the phrase “military brat” because that says it all . . . I am from nowhere in particular. I have no particular place that I can point to, call it “home”, and feel confident that people know and understand what I am talking about.
When my father went into the military, he and my mother joined the band of nomadic people sent all over the world to serve their country. We kids—my two brothers and sister—got to go along for the ride from the day we born. I was born in Wareham, Massachusetts, as was my first brother; my sister was born at Walter Reed in Washington, D.C.; and, little brother was born in Phoenix, Arizona . . . none of which any of us call “home”. Our father was raised in Alabama; our mother in North Carolina . . . we kids were raised in Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., Arizona, Georgia, Colorado, Nebraska, Maryland, Guam, California, Kansas, and, Panama all by the time I was 21 years old—none of which I consider to be “home”. Since then I have lived in Kentucky, Indiana, Nebraska, Iowa, Nebraska again, and, now Montana. See how difficult it is to answer the question of where I am from . . . I am from nowhere, but everywhere.
It has been said that “home” is where your heart is, and I have embraced that saying throughout my lifetime . . . and, it has been said that “home” is where your family is, and I have accepted that also. I can honestly say that I have always adapted to wherever it was that I was laying my head down at the end of the day . . . that I was “home”. What I cannot do, is to point to a particular place and declare it “home”—the place where I come from. The wife was born and raised in Paris, Kentucky. She proudly proclaims that she is a native of Paris, Kentucky . . . a native of Kentucky. When asked where she comes from she is quick to respond, “Paris, Kentucky!” When she has the opportunity to return to her hometown, people still know her and her family, people still swap stories . . . she is “home”. I have never had that experience and it has been one that I have spent a lifetime trying to reconcile.
As much as I buy into the idea that “home” is where the heart is . . . “home” is where the family is . . . I still want a place to call “home”. Yeah, “home” might be those two things, but it is also a place. Don’t let anyone fool you, “home” also is a place . . . and, places play significant roles in all of our lives.
In the Old Testament, God’s people were a homeless people who desired a place of their own to call “home”. It wasn’t good enough to call being in the presence of God, “home”; they wanted a physical place that they could call “home”. Place has a significant role in the story of faith, then and now. Living in Montana among those American Indians who once inhabited this area and have been removed; they, too, long to return to their homeland . . . return to the place where they are “home”. Place plays a significant role in their understanding of who they are. I admire those who have a place to call “home” . . . a place where they can point to a landmark and tell a story of their family . . . a place that means something to them personally and spiritually. I long for such a place . . . such meaning in my life . . . a place I can leave for my children and they can tell the stories.
Ever since I was a child, there had been a longing to move to Montana. Not quite sure what the reason was, but the need to get to Montana was always there. I always told people I wanted to move there because there were no people . . . and, though that is partly true, I am sure that was not the main reason. Almost five years ago, we moved to Montana. It was a move that both the wife and I felt God was calling us to make even after much prayer and discernment. We have loved living in Montana. It has slowly become home for us.
Neither one of us wants to ever move from Montana . . . though the wife lets me know from time to time that she would like to live in a bigger town. We have found “home” . . . at least I think we have. We love the beauty of the place where we live . . . we enjoy and love our little house . . . our hearts are here, and so is our family—a family that has grown since moving here with a son-in-law and granddaughter, a soon to be daughter-in-law. Our roots are digging in. We have found purpose and meaning where we are. I feel it whenever I sit around the fire pit with the family gathered . . . I feel it in the stories and laughter . . . I feel it in the presence of the place . . . I am home. It feels good to have a home.
Yes, I still dread answering the question of “where are you from?” But, I am getting better at it . . . now, when asked the question, I tell folks that I am from Joliet. Montana. If that is not good enough for them, well, then, I tell them my story. It is a story of adventure to find a home. Sounds kind of biblical to me . . . home. It sounds good to me . . . home.