It’s been a year since we moved “home” to Corpus Christi. In some ways it seems like we have always been here, like we had not been away for thirty years. There’s one street in particular that has not changed a bit and when I drive that street I feel a little like I’m in the twilight zone. Until I look in the mirror. And, things are definitely not the same as they were thirty years ago!
So, here we are back at home, and really at home. The house we bought was built in 1939, a bungalow set back in the lot between two larger homes. A cottage with a big front porch. Being old it needs some work, a new roof, some updating. Kind of like me! It is already my dear friend in a way no other structure has ever been.
It’s kinda crazy but when I walk in I feel as though I have been hugged by an old friend. I love to sit on the front porch and drink coffee. Or wine. I love to sit on the back deck, in the tiniest of backyards. And drink coffee. Or wine.
The kitchen needs updating and I’m guessing many would begin by getting rid of the bright yellow cabinets that have been painted with one too many coats of shiny paint. Not me though. The yellow is cheerful and I like not having to worry about them getting chipped. They already are! The previous owner had installed mesquite countertops and I love the warmth they provide. Don’t exactly know if I’m caring for them correctly but I’m doing my best to honor and protect them. This old house and I are doing our best to care for each other.
When I’m not sitting outside I’m usually looking outside through one of the many windows. Some of which, I am noticing right now, need washing. Someone had thoughtfully landscaped the small yard and when we moved in the bougainvilleas were in full flame. They pretty much stayed that way until the two day freeze we had this winter. They’re stubbornly coming back. I love their tenacity!
Tom has to travel most weeks with work and when he arrives home on Thursday evening I love to see the expression when he walks in. Tired but happy and ready to sit in the kitchen or on the porch and talk about the week.
So, I’m chewing today on this notion of home and while home for me has really never been about the structure but more about the people who gather in it, there is something about this particular structure that speaks to someplace deep in my heart. And, like all things, I’m seeking where God is in all of this.
One area I don’t yet feel quite at home is in any one particular church. I’m going to the Episcopal church we were a part of thirty years ago. My daughter and son in law were recently received into that church and they have a wonderful community of friends there. My granddaughters attend the pre-school there at the church and will be able to go there through the eighth grade. It is both their church and their school home. And Tom and I have cherished friends there. Family and friends, the reason we made this move home. I think Tom feels that he has come back home to this church. It’s a beautiful church and feels familiar in wonderful ways.
As much as I love this community of faith, I struggle with thinking of it as my church home. As an ordained Presbyterian pastor, who is no longer serving in an official capacity, I keep searching for what my church home is supposed to be now. I attend a weekly book study at a nearby Presbyterian church and they have welcomed me and made me feel at home in the same way the community of the Episcopal church has. I also have the occasional opportunity to provide a pastoral and preaching presence for surrounding Presbyterian churches when their pastors need to be absent for one reason or another. These churches are always very welcoming. And, yet, while all are wonderful, none are home. I keep striving to figure out where my church home is supposed to be.
This past fall I started a book/scripture study group in my home, inviting any and all to join. For nearly eight months now we have gathered on Thursday mornings. There are a possible sixteen and usually there are anywhere from six to twelve who come. I wanted it to be something no one had to rsvp for or feel obligated to. Something to come to when they could. I make a pot of coffee and light a couple of candles and wait in anticipation of who will be able to come.
Each week there is a different mix with a different energy. And each week I’m amazed and thankful for what I have learned and for what their hearts have shared. For the ways God is moving in our lives. We are from late thirties to early seventies and all in between. We come from different faith backgrounds, Catholic, Baptist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian… All are dealing with the challenges of life. Some are in serious battle with cancer, their own or a family member. Some have recently experienced the death of loved ones. Others are in the midst of raising children in this crazy world. Others assimilating into the life of retirement and all the emotions involved. And, others trying to love on adult children and care for aging parents at the same time. And, all of us are trying to navigate our lives in the most faithful way possible. I have grown to love this time, and these people, as a most heart felt and holy time of the week.
I’m wondering as I write. While I am sure I will continue to seek to balance attendance and involvement between the Episcopal and Presbyterian communities, maybe, for now, I can stop striving so much to find my church. Maybe, for now, this place, this house, is the structure of my church home. Maybe, for now, providing and participating in these Thursday morning times of sabbath is right where I’m supposed to be. At home.
Isn’t it funny how sometimes we strive and search for what has been right before us all along.
Maybe that’s why so many of us miss what Jesus was about…the incarnation, the structure, of the Love that had been there all along.
Something to chew on…