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 27, 2013

Round Here

Would you catch if I was falling
Would you kiss me if I was leaving
Would you hold me cause I'm lonely, without you
I said I'm under the gun around here
I'm lonely, lonely, lonely without you
And I can't see nothing
Nothing round here
(Round Here by the Counting Crows)

I have often wondered where it is that I belong.  For a long, long time I was jealous of my wife whenever she would say that she was a native of Paris, Kentucky . . . that she was from Kentucky.  I never could say that I was from any place in particular . . . that there was any place that I would call “home”.  Part of the reason for that is having grown up a military dependent and moving all of the time . . . part of that is being a minister and moving all of the time.  Thus it is that I think that I have always longed for a place that I could identify with . . . a place I could call home . . . a place where the people knew my name long after I am gone.  Because of that, I think I have spent a good portion of my life looking for that place . . . a place of identity.

The other morning, while driving to my job at the university in the big city near us, the song Round Here by the Counting Crows was playing.  This is a haunting song—especially if one listens to the lyrics, about a guy who encounters an almost mystical love in his life named Maria.  Maria is nothing like the people he has grown up with and lives with in his hometown.  She is a searching soul trying to find her place in the world.  He falls madly in love with her . . . but, she does not fit in.  She is not like everyone else . . .she is different.  And, as much as she tries to make the love work, she is floundering . . . she is dying.  Suddenly the guy is confronted with the paradox of what happens when someone cannot conform to the standards of a community . . . when the love of his life is not from “round here”.  It is a beautiful song, but a sad, haunting song about fitting in or losing that which is more important than conforming.  The key phrase of the song is “round here”.

We have all heard that phrase before . . . round here we do things a certain way . . . round here people think the same way . . . round here we take care of our own . . . round here we don’t care too much for strangers . . .round here . . .

I have spent a lifetime trying to understand what it means to be from “round here” . . . I have spent a lifetime attempting to fit into what it means to be from “round here” . . . a lifetime trying to find that identity . . . that place where I belong.  Now, trust me, I blend in pretty well wherever I happen to be; but, at the same time, I still want to fit in.  The problem is . . . I never quite feel like I fit in . . . feel like I belong.  I am sure I can blame that on a myriad of things . . . being raised a military brat, being a clergy . . . both are legitimate reasons for being there, while not being there.  I think that the bigger problem is that I am not from “round there”.

I knew a man, who had moved to a small rural community in which his wife and he had kids born to them.  He was the mayor of that the community for many years, raised his children in that community—watched them graduate from the local high school, served on the school board, and done just about every imaginable role a community could offer . . . but, even after he had lived there over two-thirds of his life—more than 50 years, people still referred to him and his wife as “those people”.  He was not from “round there” . . . he was not from there . . . he was not one of them.  How sad it is to spend one’s life dedicated to a community and yet, never have full membership in that community.

Poor Maria, despite her lover’s love, could never feel as if she fit in to the community in which she had moved . . . to fit in anywhere . . . and, sadly, she takes her life . . . maybe not physically, but she loses all sense of reality only to fade away.  It tough not being from “round here” . . .

And, so . . . I heard that song in the darkness of my drive to the big city . . . and, I wondered.  I wondered, will I ever really find that place where I belong . . . that place where I find my identity . . . that place where everyone knows my name and remembers when I am long, long gone?  In the darkness lots of things go through one’s mind . . . and, I wondered, have I finally found that I am from “round here”.  I don’t know . . .

What I do know is that . . . yes, I am living in the place that I feel I belong.  That long-held dream of Montana was real, and now that I live here in Big Sky country . . . I am where I belong . . . where God wants me to be.  I do not doubt that one bit.  Now, whether or not the small rural community where I live is where I belong . . . or any community for that matter . . . is where I belong, I cannot yet say.  At this time in my life, I do not feel as if I am from “round here”.  I have always felt like a sojourner passing through wherever I have lived.  That just might be the introvert in me speaking.

Yet, whether I am from “round here” or not, I am no different than any other person.  I want to be acknowledged . . . I want to be seen . . . I want to know that if I fall, will someone catch me.  It is tough when one is not from around here or from anywhere . . .

. . . it is to these that God asks us to be hospitable . . . to be welcoming . . . to receive into our lives whether they are here for a lifetime or only for a fleeting moment.  Both serve a purpose in our journey . . . both present possibilities and opportunities . . . both can be a blessing.  Yet, I am afraid, more often than not, that being from not “round here” is more of a handicap for those not from “round here” than a blessing.  Sometimes all it takes to feel as if one belongs . . . to feel as if one is from “round here” . . . is a simple acknowledgement.  Hopefully, no matter where “round here” might be, they do that “round here”.  Who knows . . . maybe the Counting Crows’ song wouldn’t have been so sad.


To hear the song, Round Here, go to:  <iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/7PAP3kN8J8w?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

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