Maybe it’s the right and good practice of venturing out away from the familiar that makes home so precious.
Home is that place where meaning making gets thrashed out. It’s familiar and most times beloved and the place where real happens.
This was so real to me last night as I marked Ash Wednesday away from home. I got myself to a church that has almost five times the people in worship each Sunday. So many times we are made to imagine that bigger is better. It wasn’t.
I was longing for a good soak in silence and contemplation. I was longing to feel connected to the teachings of my faith that ground me no matter where I find myself. I was longing for… home.
I didn’t find it there. The shimmer of the Spirit that I feel every time I walk into the sanctuary at home was missing. I struggled to stay open to it, even as I inwardly winced at the jovial chit chat going on around me during the prelude (on Ash Wednesday, my judging critic gasped!), and at the seeming inability to go through worship to the place of one of our most soul quaking realities – our own finitude and the expanse of Holy holding.
The most powerful internal conversation – and it was holy in its teaching – had to do with an appreciation of the profound love for the heart that leads people to gather in the name of the Christ to hold to themselves the promises and challenges of the gospel. I was in someone else’s home. In family speak, they didn’t mash the potatoes the way I do at home (communion wafers! Oh, the sterile wrong of it!), but they set the table. And I, who was hungry, came to dine.
I walked from worship longing for home. My church home isn’t perfect. The family fights and squabbles over the goofiest things. But in the church community I call home, we learn in our sharing and in our squabbling and in our seeking of the sacred. We learn that doing the work of making faith home matters. With our warts and our quirks and our bungles and our glories, we are doing the work of Jesus together. And somewhere along the way we forget about our own terror in the night and focus on the whisper and sometimes trumpet of assurance of Holy tending and care.
And people come. People who know a hunger for home. People willing to claim kin. And please God, they are taken in and unwrapped in the way that only home can hold: unwrapped into the real of their own good and the gentle of their place in it and the nudge of their own power. That’s home.