Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Home for Christmas

December 16, 2008

While walking, a kind gentleman said to me, “Will all of your family be home for Christmas this year?” Feeling like a politician, I avoided his real question and with a weak smile responded, “This will be a quiet Christmas for us. What about you?” He said, “Oh, they are all coming home. I hope we can find room for everyone.” We said “Merry Christmas!” to each other and walked away.

I began to sing to Bodey (I think he likes for me to sing):
“I’m dreamin tonight of a place that I love, even more than I usually do
And although I know it’s a long road home ….I promise you….
I’ll be home for Christmas…you can count on me…..”

And that’s as far as I got. That song has made me cry since I first heard it 30 years ago.
Karen Carpenter brought Bing Crosby’s song back to life in the 70’s. You who are Megan’s age should read about her and listen to her sing the song on YouTube. She, too, died way too early at the age of 32. Karen and Megan had a lot of similar attributes that people loved and still remember. The song was originally written during the war and soldiers listened, knowing that as the song said, they would be home, but maybe only in their dreams. You can almost feel as if Karen is singing about a home where someone is missing for good – a dreamy, longing kind of remembering.

What is it about going home for Christmas? What is it that floods us with thoughts and memories, home to be reunited, home for gathering and gifts, home to rest and rejuvenate, home safe from the cold of a harsh world, home to every thing we know and love? How do we get our arms around home?

Dr. Feelgood and I just watched the old movie, Home Alone. While it is hysterically funny with the antics of robbers and an absurd story of Kevin being left at home alone, it offers another story as well. The neighbor was also home alone. Kevin thought he was a crotchety old man, but he soon discovers what it feels like to be left alone for the first time. There are lots of unspoken conversations and they began to share a new common bond. Alone. Forgotten. They shared the “Christmas longing” of things being made right - for Kevin’s family to return home and the neighbor’s family to be restored.

Maybe we have never been left home alone, but we all experience the longing of restoration. There is this yearning in all of our hearts for home. Sometimes we feel alone. Sometimes we are homesick – or maybe heartsick. Maybe it is a little the way Adam and Eve felt when they first experienced separation from God. Bart Millard said in his book Homesick “For Earth’s first couple, freshly banished from paradise, this separation was a new sensation. For us, it is an ever-present awareness. I have felt it tug more at some times than others- my first day of school, leaving home, welcoming my children into the world, and thinking about the day when I will have to let them go, watching family and loved ones slip away – but the feeling that something’s missing will never fully go away this side of Heaven. And that’s probably as it should be. After all, this world is not our home”.

Bart Millard of Mercy Me wrote the song “Homesick” (listen to it also online) after experiencing several deaths of close family and friends. His words offer meaning for me this year:
You’re in a better place, I’ve heard a thousand times
And at least a thousand times I’ve rejoiced for you
But the reason why I’m broken, the reason why I cry
Is how long must I wait to be with you
I close my eyes and I see your face
If home’s where my heart is then I’m out of place
Lord, won’t You give me strength to make it through somehow
I’ve never been more homesick than now
Help me, Lord, ’cause I don’t understand Your ways
The reason why, I wonder if I’ll ever know
But even if You showed me, the hurt would be the same
Because I’m still here so far away from home
In Christ there are no goodbyes
In Christ there is no end
So I’ll hold onto Jesus with all that I have
To see you again
To see you again
What does your heart yearn for this Christmas? Where is your “home”? Maybe it is a relationship that needs to be discovered or rediscovered, like Kevin’s neighbor. Maybe our heart yearns for a new relationship with Christ – the one who offers hope to our hearts and a spiritual home forever – never to be alone again.
St. Catherine of Siena said” Make two homes for thyself…one actual home…and another spiritual home, which thou art to carry with thee always.” So today, Blair and I will make cookies in our actual home. We will make Megan’s Star Cookies and think about Heaven, our spiritual home where Megan now lives, and it will carry us through.

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