Home is a nebulous word. It’s hard to nail down. While it implies the sense of place, it is much more than that, home is often dependent on the presence of others.
Home means several things to me. First and foremost, home is wherever I am with Kimberly and Jonathan. New Orleans is also home. It is the place where I currently connect with friends who are dear to me. Last, but not least, Oklahoma is home. It was my first home. It is where I learned the meaning of home. My family, friends and rich memories make my Oklahoma as comfortable as my favorite pair of jeans.
Home – the space I share with Kimberly and Jonathan — is the place I can be myself and be who I was created to be. Home is safe. At home my flaws are accepted and forgiven, but I’m challenged to grow. At home I am loved and encouraged. Here, with Kimberly and Jonathan, I can dream about the future.
New Orleans has become home to me. My friends at church and at the seminary have challenged me. The people of this city have helped me learn to slow down and enjoy life. As far as I can tell, this is the place I am going to be for years to come. I am investing my life here and living out my faith in Christ in hopes of making this city a better place.
Home is also where we were shaped and grounded. That’s what Oklahoma – my boyhood home — means to me. The people I encountered there – Mom and Dad, my sister, my grandparents, my family, my friends, my teachers and preachers – made me who I am. They imparted values and led me to my faith. No matter where I go, I’ll always have Oklahoma with me.
I love great songs and sometime last year I heard a tiny portion of Hem’s Half Acre in a Liberty Mutual commercial. I don’t listen to much folk music, but I’m glad I heard this song. It is sad and melancholy, but it makes me think of how my life was shaped in Oklahoma.
The song centers on someone who carries a piece of a map as a reminder of home. Over and over, the song speaks of the sadness and fear this person carry. Here is the bridge and final verse:
“So we carry every sadness with us
every hour our hearts were broken
every night the fear and darkness
lay down with us
But I am holding half an acre
torn from the map of Michigan
I am carrying this scrap of paper
that can crack the darkest sky wide open
every burden taken from me
every night my heart unfolding
I think the message of the song is this — the grounding we receive at home is important. A good home helps us stand up to the pains and troubles of life. I pray that this home Kimberly and I are making will be one that inspires Jonathan and prepares him for the challenges and triumphs of life.