I heard that refrain frequently during my childhood. I have to admit, I was cute.
Some days, like today, I gaze at my reflection in the morning mirror and hear a different refrain brought on by the harshness of time. "What happened?" The dark circles under my eyes. The white strands that salt my hair. The hairs that sprout from ears, nose and brow.
|Superboy on his Steed|
I think about those days and my eyes begin to well up with tears, my throat starts to tighten. I imagine that this is how the displaced Israelites must have felt as they sat down by the waters of Babylon. How had they ended up here? How they missed their home! Would they ever return?
I have lived in the Midwest now for more than half my life. Yet, the Warm Heart of Africa will always be "home." I have no family there. No friends. No connection at all. Except for memories. Sweet memories of swinging from bamboo trees, and exploring the forests and fields on my bicycle. (My parents were always amazed that no matter where we went, someone always seemed to recognize me. We could be all the way across town and hear someone call out my name in an accent that changes rs to ls and ls to rs: "El-lick-ee!")
I have no idea if I will ever return. I want to. My heart yearns to return. And yet, it doesn't. I don't want to be disappointed by what I might find. What I want is a return to my youth. But life only offers us a one-way ticket.
The reality of life as the child of a pastor (and as one who became a pastor) is that you move, a lot. Since the age of thirteen, I have never lived in any location for more than four years. Until now. This week I will have called the Thumb of Michigan home for five. If anything, that experience helps me to understand and appreciate all the more, the reality of life as a child of God.
I am but a stranger here; heaven is my home.