By Graham Glover –
Dorothy is right: “There’s no place like home”.
For the past 8 ½ years my family and I have had 6 homes, not including those temporary abodes of mine when deployed.
That’s a lot of homes, especially considering they encompass 5 different cities.
What I find remarkable though is that if you ask my daughter and son where “home” is, they don’t hesitate in their response. Home is Gainesville, Florida – the place where they were born, but only lived respectively for 2 ½ and ½ years of their life.
My wife and I are also from Gainesville (although my bride reminds me that I’m not a true native, having moved there when I was 4), maintaining our legal residence, drivers’ licenses, and voter registrations there.
And I couldn’t agree more with Dorothy, there really is no place like home. For me, nothing compares to my hometown. No place – regardless of its history, majesty, or beauty, will ever compete with what I know as home.
To say that I long to return to my home would be a gross understatement. I’m absolutely certain that Gainesville will one day officially be our home again. When that will take place and under what circumstances, I’m not altogether sure. But all things being equal, there is no question where I’d love to live and no doubt that there are a lot of things I wish to do and accomplish in my hometown.
It’s not that I define my home only by the parameters of a particular city. In a sense, my home is currently in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, where I live with my wife and children. We have a house here. We sleep here. We eat, work, and go to school here. Most weekends, we play here. Our dog is here. So, yes, I guess you could say that our home is currently on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
But my true home – the place that raised me, molded me, and gave me the lens by which I experience the world is Gainesville, Florida. That is my home. It is where I am from and Lord willing, where I will return.
It may not be Eden. It may be a bit eclectic for someone with my vocational pedigree. It may swelter with humidity 11 ½ months out of the year and lack in its ecclesial and political orthodoxy. But it’s my home. It defines me. It is me.
For now, my family and I freely, gladly, and joyfully make a place on the other side of the world our home. Our life is here. And what an incredibly awesome experience it is to serve in this place and at this time, even if it isn’t what I properly understand to be our true home.
One of my favorite bands these days, ‘Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’, says in one of their popular songs: “Home is wherever I’m with you”. My wife recently put that quote on a collage she created in our family room. It’s kind of apropos for a military family that has moved as often as we have. And as with Dorothy as she dreamed of leaving Oz, I couldn’t agree more with these words. For while I long to return to my hometown, I’m never confused about the very people that daily bring me the greatest joy of my life – the ones that make up my home.
So too is it with us all. Each of us yearns for a home that defines us – a place that calls out to us. But as we wait and prepare to make our final homes there, we rejoice in the wonder of our current place – our current home. For it is here that we have been called, here where we serve, and here where contentment can be found.
“There’s no place like home”. I’ll get there one day. And so will all the faithful.
(‘The Emperor’s Chair’ will be taking the next several weeks off to work on some long overdue PhD studies. I look forward to returning in early July and stirring the pot some more!)