We all need a home.
When i’m focused on God, the place where I am isn’t important. It doesn’t matter to me if I have a physical home. During these times, however, I have had a home amongst the people I’m with. My companions become the safety net and relationship that I need. They become my safe place, the place that I belong. Why do we strive so hard to have a physical place to belong? I think of when Jesus was a travelling teacher, living from place to place; Paul and Barnabas, visiting places for months at a time. I wonder if because they knew that is what God wanted them to do they didn’t feel they needed a home, or if they made a home amongst one another when there was a lack of a physical place.
Then I think of the trauma and lament when someone is displaced from their home, wether it be through natural disaster, violence, or the breakdown of a relationship. It’s a heart wrenching, gut-turning, tidal wave of grief. Place is important to humans, we cannot escape it. We need to belong to both to other humans, and indeed to a place. The place can change, our kinship can change, but not without the death of what was, and the birth of something new. When there is an absence of place, people tend to cling to their relationships with people more than before.
I get married in three weeks and we’re moving to a new town 90 minutes away. We’ll have a new community, a new environment, a new house, a new job, and new routines. It is wonderful, exciting, fresh, and good. But it also means the death of what was. As humans we like traditions, we like certain routines and we enjoy habits. Our physical place becomes a part of our life; it embeds itself in our routine, we form habits around it, and we get used to the traditions of a certain place – whether that be the weekly farmers market, or the barista that you see every Wednesday morning. Place can become a part of you as much as some people do. We have relationships with places just as we do with people. Let’s not underestimate the sadness that comes with the loss of place. The death of something is always a part of a transition. So is the joy and struggle of new life. God remains Lord, even during times of transition when a part of you dies. He is the one thing we can count on that doesn’t transition or change – I finally understand the relevance and importance of having a God who never changes. He is the one constant we can always rely on.
Adam and I are moving on from our current place, the place where memories of our childhood and teenage years are embedded. There is loss and grief in that. There is also the prospect of a new beginning which is far enough apart from the old, that there is freedom for adventures and fullness of life that wouldn’t happen otherwise.
Life is full of transitions, and therefore it is both full of grief, and full of fresh joy and anticipation.