Thursday, August 04, 2005

Homeless at home

I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be "at home" with yourself, with others, with the world and with God. I just finished Henri Nouwen's The Return of the Prodigal and it talks a lot about being at home. It seems to me that their is a constant longing for home in my life. I experience moments of being at home yet never fully content and satisfied. There is an angst, a longing and a desire for more. I remember this in the movie Garden State (one of the best of the year in my opinion) when Zach Braff's character Andrew Largeman is talking with his Sam (Natalie Portman) about he feels homeless upon coming home to his childhood house after a long time away. He says,

You know that point in your life when you realize that the house that you grew up in isn't really your home anymore? All of the sudden even though you have some place where you can put your stuff that idea of home is gone... It just sort of happens one day and it's just gone. And you can never get it back. It's like you get homesick for a place that doesn't exist. I mean it's like this rite of passage, you know. You won't have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for you kids, for the family you start, it's like a cycle or something. I miss the idea of it. Maybe that's all family really is. A group of people who miss the same imaginary place.

I think he captures the tension of being a sojourner, a pilgrim and living in exile where we are not completely at home. Family are those people longing for a place to call home. We all have a longing a homesickness to be at home with ourselves, others, the world and God.

I started looking into this idea of home and dwelling in the Bible. We were created at home in the garden where it was good (not perfect or complete, but good) and then we ran away from home. We in turn became homeless wanderers. The whole story of Israel is one of wandering and looking for home, being sojourners, living in exile... The promise of the prophets was that God would once again make his home with us (Ezekiel 37:27; Jeremiah 31:1). And finally God does make his home with us once again by moving into the neighborhood and dwelling among us in Jesus (John 1:14). Jesus not only makes his home among us he IS/WAS the home or dwelling place of God. Jesus then promises that once he leaves that he will send another to make His dwelling in all who follow after him. We become the home of God in and through his Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 3:16; 6:19).

And yet we like those who have come before us, the communion of saints, are never fully at home; we are aliens and strangers looking for our home. Yet the promise is that this will be our home in the new heavens and the new EARTH. In fact God promises once again to make his home and dwelling place among his people (Revelation 21:3) which means that the glimpses of home we experience are just that - glimpses and that there is more to come. So we are stuck in between homes, in the here but not yet, at home but still homeless.

What if home is where the longing is. OR as Bono puts it, Home... I can’t say where it is but I know I'm going home - that's where the hurt is. What if the longing for home is there intentionally. What if the longing for home is what drives closer to home? Didn't the prophets tell Israel while in exile to make their home in a land that was not their own? What if the homesickness and the hurt is to further the search for home? Can we be at home when we are homeless sojourners? Jesus was, wasn't he? What do you think?

I am becoming thankful that my home is in the city which is not quite home and it keeps me longing and striving for a better home. Iam thankfull that I am learning to be at home with myself with all the brokennessand allowingg that to create more space for God to live in me. I am thankful that Jesus said, anyone who loves me will keep my word and my Father will love him and we shall come to him and make our home in him. I am thankful that I am God's home yet still longing for God to make his full dwelling in me and on earth as it is in heaven.


John said...


I join you in these feelings, as I think many do, at this point in my life. Since I left my parents home 5 years ago after college I've only had very temporary homes. We've wandered around, and the place we live now is definately not our home. I do think our home has to do with a place, hopefully we find a place we can call home soon. More importantly it's about the people. And God making his home with us, the body of Christ, the church... blows me away!

Sarah Louise said...

As a lifelong sojourner, (I moved overseas at 10 mos. old) I totally relate to this posting. I consider Pittsburgh my hometown even though I first came here as a 17 year old (and left twice, for years at a time). It's the place I claim as home because I chose it, not the government or my parents. But I am always wishing I could go back to where I've been. The other week I was so homesick for Warsaw, Poland--it's not like I can just take a Greyhound across the Atlantic and kick around a few stones. Churches have always been my "home" too--just another reason why our move eastward is hard for me. Ah, I ramble on and on. Anyways, thanks for blogging on this! Suzi aka SL