Our Journey Home and Obstacles Along the Wayby Fr. Joe on April 20, 2021
OUR JOURNEY HOME, AND OBSTACLES ALONG THE WAY
I shared with you in last week’s conversation, some introductory thoughts on our journey towards a place called home. But before I continue this discussion, you may be struck by my choice of words: conversation, and discussion. I expect to engage in this topic in community with others. It is not meant to be a monologue, but a dialogue. It is not meant to be a space for me to ramble on and enjoy listening to myself think and type (although I will be enjoying some of my reflections down memory lane!). YOU are a crucial part of this discussion, a part of my community. I hope to hear from you. To hear what speaks to you, what you wrestle with, what doesn’t make sense to you, what you disagree with. In this Good Shepherd website space, you have an opportunity to email me personally, or to comment on the website for the benefit of others, or so others can also interact with your thoughts. I have already received some emails back that have enabled me to think from a slightly different angle, and to respond back. This discussion is open to all who find themselves clicking into this place, not just Episcopalians or our parish folk.
Well, let me return to the topic at hand, home. As I mentioned last week, we all come to this subject with our own individual experience. Let me share with you my experience of home that has informed my understanding. My Dad’s two brothers, Joe and Dale started Hudson Construction Company in Boulder Colorado in the early 1940’s. Dad began working for the company as a teenager in 1947. He eventually married MaryKay, and the young couple built their first home on a lot donated by the family company. My father’s brothers lived within a few blocks of my first house. But this house is not the one I think of when I think of home. That would be a different house my father had built 1 ½ miles away. It was there that I spent much of my formative years. It is this house that I consider home. In the front yard a blue spruce tree was planted. It grew straight, strong, and very tall over the years. I have recently been back – these fifty some years later – to marvel at the strength and size of that tree. As with everything in the natural world, this particular blue spruce tree has received the benefit of good soil, nutrients and water to assist its growth. It has also endured extremes of temperature, wind, and the presence of predatory bugs. The strength and resiliency of this tree is a symbol of the strength, beauty, and resiliency of the family Jim and MaryKay Hudson began to raise on that corner. Although mom is no longer with us physically, the Hudson family presently includes four children, their spouses, ten grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.
Our home had a big backyard, and a tall tree that sported a ladder ascending to a tree house which looked out over tiny Skunk Creek on the edge of our property, and just beyond to the home of our neighbor girls. These three girls – Debbie, Amy, and Becky – had their own beautiful physical house. But, in some ways it was not a true “home” to them, as there was some tension in their parents’ marriage. The three girls often thought of my parents as their extended parents, and in their heart of hearts, the girls’ kind of considered our home, their home. Our door and pool and kitchen were always open to them, and many were the days they would walk down to the creeks edge, hop over, climb the short fence marking our property, and come by for a visit. Their trek across the creek, and over the fence is a metaphor of the obstacles we sometimes encounter on our journey towards home.
But our home was much more than a comfortable place for the three girls. Many of the neighborhood kids would gather at our place as well. We regularly held summer plays and events out back to raise a little candy money. I still remember Amy as Snoopy perched atop her doghouse, as my brother Jim – the Red Baron – swooped in on his triplane raining down crab apples like bullets on poor Snoopy! We would play football on the street out front, or kick-the-can.
My dad’s brothers were also an important part of home to me. I still remember Uncle Joe and Aunt Margaret’s home, and their old Player Piano. I see Uncle Dale, the handyman in the family, working in the construction company shop, tinkering with some project. He taught me many things in that space: hammering, welding, making window screens, and such.
You see, the sense of home for me is much bigger than the nuclear family that included Jim, MaryKay, Diane, Jim, Joe, and John. That home drew in Debbie, Amy, and Becky. It also included uncle Joe and aunt Margaret, and Dale and Sarah. It now includes my wife Desiree and our three incredible children Danielle, Tim, and Josh. My son-in-law Joe, and daughter-in-law Alma are now part of this home. And of course, this “Papa” would be VERY remiss if he did not include five wonderful grandkids Tyler, Jillian, Logan, Jaedon, and Ethan.
So, you may be wondering why I have spent so much time on my travel down memory lane. Well, for one selfish reason it has felt good. It has brought back some fond warm memories. But the real reason is to connect my experience of physical home, with our home in God. Those things I experience in my home in this world; laughter, joy, growth, safety, security, love, and much more, are just a small, imperfect taste, of what home is meant to be in God. That home in God we are allowed to experience now, and will one day know in its fullness in that place beyond death.
This home in God is about more than God. It includes what the Apostles Creed refers to, as “the communion of saints.” When I look out beyond my earthly experience of home, I glimpse that greater communion of saints that includes friends, and acquaintances, and mentors, and authors, and family members who are no longer physically here. It includes the apostles Peter and Paul, Abraham, John of the Cross, Martin Luther King, and millions of other fellow pilgrims who have finished the race, and kept the faith.
Home. Someone emailed a comment back to me last week and said that this journey home is “full of both soul-grindingly steep grades and switch-backs, and exhilarating vistas.” Yes, it is all that and more!! May we walk this path together in the weeks ahead, as we explore this eternal home with God, and all the beings who dwell there.
God’s blessings on each of you as your soul continues to point towards home.