We live in a mixed-up world.
We so want the “things of home,” but aren’t too concerned about “where” home actually is.
We want security, comfort, acceptance, affirmation, love; but we don’t understand why we really want them. Some might say, “Well, those things make me feel…” You can fill in the blank.
Yet, feelings are not facts.
Sometimes I can get caught up in a state of nostalgia. Miranda Lambert, in her popular song, The House That Built Me sang:
I know they say you can’t go home again
I just had to come back one last time…
I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here it’s like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself
If I could just come in I swear I’ll leave
Won’t take nothing but a memory
From the house that built me
Like Ms. Lambert, I can believe that the answer to my brokenness might be found in the past. I can believe memories might somehow fulfill the longings of the heart.
While I can always take something from my memories, I cannot live in them. The past is the past. I cannot live in it nor can I change it. I must entrust it to Divine Mercy.
It is, however, important for me to remember things as they really were.
When I was there, in the house of my youth, I dreamt of leaving, of freedom and independence, of finding love somewhere out there. I eventually did leave. It was exciting and scary at the same time.
I did find love somewhere out there…I found someone. We married. We have kids now and a house. Even with all we have, I can still suffer from that restlessness that I felt in my youth. My imagination can lead me to fantasize about freedom, independence, what might have been if I’d only….
Yet those feelings of remorse, doubt, restriction, or differentness point to something off in my life, in me.
If I’m not the problem, there is no solution.
I’m a sinner. I lose my way. But the very word “way” implies a destination. What is critical for me is that I don’t allow that lostness to become a crisis of orientation.
G.K. Chesterton once wrote:
Man has always lost his way. He has been a tramp ever since Eden; but he always knew, or thought he knew, what he was looking for. Every man has a house somewhere in the elaborate cosmos; his house waits for him waist deep in slow Norfolk rivers or sunning itself upon Sussex downs. Man has always been looking for that home which is the subject matter of this book. But in the bleak and blinding hail of skepticism to which he has been now so long subjected, he has begun for the first time to be chilled, not merely in his hopes, but in his desires. For the first time in history he begins really to doubt the object of his wanderings on the earth. He has always lost his way; but now he has lost his address.
– What’s Wrong With The World, pg. 53
Losing sight of that reality has all kind of implications for me. A loss of heavenly orientation causes me to begin thinking it’s all about me.
If I don’t go through my day bearing in mind that “I’m only here to get out of here”…
- I start thinking that the accumulation of things (i.e. money, property, toys, clothes, etc) really matters
- I try to create my own happiness
- I forget to make time for prayer and spiritual reading
- I start acting on impulses; becoming pleasure-oriented
- I find a sense of superiority at the expense of others via gossip, criticism, detraction, and false judgement
However, when I actually do think about where I’m going…
- I start caring more about my relationship with God
- I am overwhelmed by need for His Grace, turning more frequently to prayer and the Sacraments (especially Communion and Confession)
- I realize it is not all about me!
- I try to be of service to others
- I am focused on the reality that I’m the mess not others.
In a nutshell, I try to live like I’m leaving, just as I did in the “house of my youth.”
I seek, in my heart, to find a place of security, comfort, acceptance, affirmation, and, most importantly, love.
Home then isn’t so much where you hang your hat as it is where you hang your heart….Jesus showed us that on the cross.
As St. Augustine so fittingly said:
You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.
I’ve tried, in fact, I still try, at times, to make this world my home.
Yet when the pain gets bad enough, when the restlessness becomes overbearing, I turn back. Like the prodigal son I set my sights on home.
“Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” – John 14:1-3
Dorothy got it right….There’s no place like home.
God bless you and keep you.