Sunday, February 27, 2011

Click Your Heels Three Times

So said the kindly witch to Dorothy. All the young girl wanted was to return to Kansas...home.

Some, like my wife live their entire childhoods in one locale, maybe even living in the same house their entire young lives. They graduate from high school 13 years later with the same classmates from their kindergarten class. Some have only known one church family their entire lives. For them, home is easy to find.

Such was not my life. I was born into a military family. By the time I graduated high school I had lived in 12 different houses/apartments. In 12 years I attended 8 different schools. Grades 6-8 were in three different schools. Think it's tough being in middle school? Try having to make all new friends every year. Then three different high schools in four years. And from the time I can remember 8 different churches. Oh yeah, my adolescence included four different church youth groups.

So I must really be messed up! Or at least I could be. (Some might say that I am!) But I'm not so sure being transient wasn't a character building plus.

I just returned from 5 days of going back to the place where I lived from age 3 through age 11. When I say "place", I mean area. We lived in six houses in those almost nine years. My purpose in going back was to capture some sense of "home" that typically escapes military families. It's a trip I've been wanting to do for some time. All of my elementary school years - kindergarten through sixth grade - were in this community.

Mostly by memory we found all the places I had hoped to see. Two of the first three houses are gone; one of those replaced by the government with a modern new town home. (I'm glad to see military families being better cared for, especially during this time of war.) My first school, Midway Park Elementary is gone. But the building that house the chapel we attended and the room where I went to kindergarten are still in use. The old theater I walked to on Saturdays and watched movies and serials for a quarter is still a functioning theater.

We drove by the three homes outside of town, in what was then a brand new development in the country. The church we attended has grown tremendously. I talked to the pastor at the church (a different church) where I discovered life in Christ as a ten year old boy. Gail took pictures of me on the field where I played Little League baseball. Best of all I had dinner with some very dear friends from over 45 years ago who still call me "Ricky".

Even though I have no family there, rekindling those long dormant memories and seeing the places were my life was shaped gave me a feeling like I was home, if just for a few days. Two months from now I'll have a similar experience when I go to the place where I lived for a period as a teenager 3,000 miles away and have a reunion with more people who helped me become who I am today. I look forward to seeing some of them for the first time in almost 35 years.

As a Christian I'm told in the Bible that I have a home I've never yet seen. That seems to mean that when I arrive there it will seem like the place where I've always belonged. And there will be so many I've known throughout this life already there to welcome me. I look forward to that homecoming.

Home. It sounds good. Last week I felt a bit of it, and it felt good! If you're fortunate to have somewhere to call "home", don't take it for granted.