Fall is turning to winter and we are, once again, considering Christmas preparations. But as we do, I think back on the events of my fall and they seem to coalesce around one concept: HOME.
What a loaded word that is.
HOME. My third-grader listed it as one of the places he most likes to go on his “All About Me” poster for school. This blessed me greatly. For him, home is close to what it should be – a refuge and stronghold of love.
And I fervently hope my children will always feel this way about the home they’ve grown up in.
HOME is where we live, where we once lived, and what will be our place of living at some point in the future. And yet despite our best efforts to make HOME stable, it is perpetually in flux.
From one year to the next, home changes.
Because the people are changing. Moving in and out. Closer and farther away.
This is my lesson from fall 2018.
Last month, I sat across from my 15-year old son at a wedding our family attended, and felt the years stretch out ahead and behind.
The bride was radiant (as all brides are) and the groom was dazzled by her. Family and friends wished them well and prayed for their happiness. I was especially hopeful, as the bride is a diamond of a person whom I’ve known for 15 years. Yes – ever since she started babysitting an infant boy – who grew into the teenage boy sitting across from me at her reception dinner. Back then, she herself was his exact age.
I see the way his increasingly broad shoulders fill out his blazer, how remarkably relaxed he is in a tie, joking with his teenage sister in a manner closely approximating adulthood. There are clear outlines of the man he will become; only the shading need be filled in.
And I returned again to my mind’s refrain – the one I’ve heard daily since September.
I miss him already.
He’s only a sophomore in high school. A couple years to go.
But you can see a bird is going to take flight when it raises its wings off its back, and that’s where we are now.
How do you sit with melancholy?
The instability of knowing the inevitability of an event that is both happy and sad? Desirable – even prayed for – and yet – not exactly what your heart craves.
He will be leaving his home.
I can stand back and watch time pass quickly – like sand through an hourglass – or I can break open the glass and examine each grain.
So I watch him eat. I listen to him laugh. I hear his stories and respond empathetically. Try not to react with alarm when surprised or concerned. I ask questions that I hope will bring us closer, and when he shares with me – I thank him. His life is his. I know this. And yet….and yet….
Home is where we want to be….together. But togetherness is fleeting. All homes are temporary shelters of love since the members come and go. They draw closer to us. And pull away. For days, months, years, or forever.
There is no real home here on earth.
I bear this in mind, and take my heart to the only One who can console, and who loves my son more than me. It’s his Creator, and mine, after all.
And while I pray for my son’s protection, I am reminded that this boy was given to me for a time, and no more.
Let’s live the days as if they are numbered, for indeed – they are.
So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom. – Psalm 90:12