This past week I got to go back to my part of the world. It’s funny, whenever I say that I’m “from New England but live in Texas, now,” I hear: “Oh, so different!” The expression is always emphatic- probably because it’s so absoloute. It is different. It’s also true that yankee cowgirls are few and far between- you don’t find many lobstah eatin’, beeah drinkin’ folks down here. So far, though, the disconnect hasn’t caused too much of an identity crisis. (And for the record, I don’t actually refer to myself as a yankee cowgirl.)
Truly though, there is something so special about the place where your life-story began. Now I love stories, memories and nostalgia equally- and love even more to mix the three and share their sappiness until tears are involved. You might imagine the little love fest my husband was subject to as we toured my hometown: “this is where my best friend in fourth grade lived, this was my parking spot near my high school, this is the path I used to walk my dog on ..” and on and on. In all seriousness, he was quite engaged and I know it was because he realizes how near these stories are to me. This is who I am! Listen, listen! Stories help us to belong and remind us how much we matter.
We spent a bulk of our time winding around Northern New England. The roads are so hilly and so old and some of them so coastal that the ride is a twisty turny kind of scenic. Nevertheless, the hills in Vermont were still so green and the ocean wind in Maine saltier than ever. The seaside villages were the quaintest in the world and rustic New England barns oozed Americana. Cobblestone streets and clapboard homes boasted the former residences of Revere’s and Longfellow’s– stories that have lasted for centuries. I loved everything all over again. But even more, I loved that I remembered my home right. It’s just not home if you don’t.
So of course this got me to thinking, as rich experiences tend to, about what this means? The Northeast corner, though small in stature and rough around the edges, grew our nation. And I suppose this is what homes do too– they grow us. Sometimes, we cling to our homes so tightly they cannot set us free, sometimes we reject our homes entirely and wonder where we came from. And sometimes, our homes leave us earlier than we would have liked. However the story began, we do grow-up, and all the sudden we find ourselves, 20 years older, new husband and all, looking back on our roots.
So the question I hear now is: How do we keep rooting? Growing up is good, and to keep growing is even better. I think this looks different for everyone. Some diligently cultivate the roots already in place. These are roots that they have had their whole life, and to leave them, would be flaky at best and unloyal at worst. So, they dutifully root in the same steady line they always have. I’ve seen beautiful people do this and pateintly build great legacies. I also know that I couldn’t.
I told this to Luke last night. I said: “I can’t be in the same place for eighteen years.” He told me three things that brought great relief to my angsty twenty-something self: First, he said, “I know.” Then, he said, “Me either.” Next he said, “I don’t think our perceived parameters are God’s parameters.” I am really thanful that Luke gets how I want to be everywhere at once. I want to touch and be touched by different people and places so deeply, that I have many different homes. Roots everywhere! Please, let me spread my wings wide! What truth that my Creator knows me, loves me Wanderlust included, and will use it for the good of the Kingdom.(Psalm 37:4) To my wandering itch He says, “Go, love people, and live for me.”
As for rooting and running, which is, arguabley what I’ve done a lot of my life, I am learning to trust myself enough to trust the roots I have left. They are strong because I am strong and as such- I must trust that they have grown on their own accord even though I have let them go. Or better yet, they have grown something altogether beautiful and new. And when it comes back around? When I see the fruits of the new thing I rooted? Then my heart does in fact whisper what the poets said it would,
“Home, home at last!”