“Be safe. Have fun. Come home.” With these last words, Ian and I parted after enjoying our monthly breakfast, conversation and blossoming friendship. As the day wore on the words “Come home” continued to resonate in my mind and heart. I knew that they had struck a chord as he said them, but I was too busy and too focused on a crammed schedule to allow much time to actually feel them.
Sometime in the evening I had the first recognition of why my heart was stirred by Ian’s words. In the page “About” in this blog I end it with this pilgrimage summary, “Looking for God. Seeking the sacred. Leaving home. Coming home.” When I wrote those words I knew what it meant to leave home. I knew that I was leaving behind images of what home means here in Portland. I knew that I had to let go of my traditional images of what being a pastor means. I knew that I had to let go of my expectations of where my life was “supposed” to be at this point.
When I wrote those words “Coming home” I knew instinctively that pilgrimages end with a sort of coming home, except that home is almost always transformed. It is rearranged. Some doors have closed. Others have opened. Priorities shift. What once seemed foreign may become intimate. What was once intimate may become distant. My head knew this instinctively, but my heart really did not have any idea of what home would look like when I returned.
Ian’s comment was the first inkling that I DO recognize where home is. It wasn’t the fact that Ian had named a general reality in his blessing. It was the fact that Ian himself, a person I have grown to love and respect and enjoy, had said it. It is one thing to say that one feels a general sense of belonging in life. It’s another thing to say, “I belong to this person or to that person.”
I don’t want to stretch this too far with regard to Ian. I don’t want him to start feeling weird and have to explain all this to his lovely wife! But, I heard echoes in his comment that began to ring true for me. I do know that I need to leave home for a while in order to discover my true home. Until his comment, I knew instintively that I would be having a “coming home” experience. I just couldn’t dredge up images of what coming home might look like. After Ian’s parting blessing yesterday I felt the first yearnings of what I am coming home to. What is a general principle about pilgrimages is already starting to form into a very rough picture.
There is a wide canvas still to paint. But, the first splatters of color are starting to show up. I WILL be coming home. This much I know about that: Home will have a room for my two amazing children, Phil and Julie, and the loves of their lives. There will always be a room in my heart for my good friends. The walls of this place called home will always be painted with the colors of compassion, beauty, and service. It doesn’t matter how far away I go. Those things will never change. And now I know that. Thank you, Ian, for your gift!