For Christmas, all I want are two fixed coordinates; X and Y. Also known as a point of origin.
I want to have come from somewhere ancient; to be able to first point to a very old place full of very old buildings, say “There, Then.” And second, point at myself, a heart full of trembling hands, and say, “Here, Now.”
Why do I desire roots, and by extension, Home? “This is where I come from,” I long to say, “This red dirt and these sounds of Blue Herons, these smells of lavender and this amber ray of sunrise — here and here and here.”
More than Los Gatos, California — more than Scotland and Italy — more than dirt and air.
Beneath the desire, a lament — that I wish to possess the virtues of age and place, but without any of the cost or process necessary to acquire them. I want to have roots, but I don’t want to grow them.
In this way, I’ve forgotten what ‘growth’ even means. Nothing around me grows. Instead, everything around me — from coffee to money transfers to entire seasons of TV to air mattresses to an exact timeline of the French and Indian War to new homes — is Instant, Instantaneous, infinitely swappable for the next model and always — always at my fingertips.
And not to say that speed is inherently evil — because it isn’t — But it’s not always good.
Roots require growth. And growth hurts. Roots seep out from within my trunk, and dig deep into the earth. Into a place. Roots demand abiding and endurance, neither an idea with much sway nowadays.
Perhaps I take pride in having left ‘Home’, or having re-arranged the building blocks to the point of not recognizing it as home at all.
I burn bridges as if it’s a rite of passage. I re-develop mangers into shopping malls. Re-configure cradles into convenience stores into coffee shops into co-working spaces into into into…
Everything looks familiar, but nothing feels familiar.
Vintage is now virtue. Distressing material is now an assembly line directive. Grain and Dust are incorporated into clean pictures and used to displace, or de-place, ourselves. Wear and tear, brick and wood, Edison bulbs like sand on the seashore. Shiplap and hardwood floors. Rust and frayed edging, amen.
Yes, I am cynical of Time and Age’s mass commodification, but not of the desire. The desires are in me too — the desires to belong to somewhere, to someone — to yearn continually for Home — for a land you know yet cannot describe — a place you’ve never been, but have always known — and that is Good.
But I cannot build Time, and I cannot manufacture Place. I cannot create Age. Rather, the best humanity can offer is the comfort of dust — from dust drawn out, and to dust destined for. but not of the desire.
I build my pretty frames and admire the bark on the wood without stopping to acknowledge the deeper truth: I — We — are not made of bark.
We are made of rings. Which are, in turn, made of time.
+ TWO +
What a beautiful truth — Yes, I come from a very old place.
What a strange truth — Yes, I belong to a current I neither created nor control.
What a difficult truth — No, it is not a place to be bought, sold, subdivided, redeveloped or repurposed.
What a frightful truth — I am home in the hand of God.
What a loving truth — You are home in the hand of God.
What a painful, graceful, mysterious, burdensome, vibrant, wondrous, transformational-if-we-let-it truth — We are home in the hand and heart of God.
+ THREE +
One of my favorite movies is Hook, for the scene where Peter Banning — now an overweight, overwrought adult — has been rejected and disavowed by the Lost Boys.
Until the last boy. He approaches, looks Banning up and down, and calls Peter to his level, down near the soil. And the little boy smooshes his hands against his face, pulls back the eyelids, and like magic — “Oh, THERE you are Peter!”
There I will be, in what the world considers my greatest success, me at my best and biggest, and there my beloved will smoosh their fingers against my face, and they will know me as no one else knows me, as only God Himself knows me more — “Oh, THERE you are, Dominic!”
And there I will be, in what the world considers my greatest failure, me at my worst and weakest, and my beloved will smoosh their fingers against my face, and they will know me as no one else knows me, as only God Himself knows me more — “Oh, THERE you are, Dominic!”
+ FOUR +
The world, like Saul maladapting David into a soldier, will drape you with ill-fitting armor and demand you fight battles you don’t believe in, for reasons you don’t understand.
"Be a soldier, not a shepherd. Be a warrior, not a lover."
But the Lord, the Shepherd who made me well, sees through all worldly adorning and shaming. It’s Padre, palms open, “There, Then…Here, Now.”
Here, I’ve always been. Here, I’ll always be.
Who sings the song I've heard all this time?
What is the still, small voice which has always stirred me -- which has sparked simultaneous dream and terror?
Does Home fill me with dread? With imagination?
Does Home dig deeper and wider than I'll ever know?
What King -- What Shepherd --
Where am I walking?
What Lion -- What Lamb --
Whose steps are these? Whose blood in my veins?
What Maker -- What Love --
Who are you that calls me Home?
Home might never be a single place, but it is always a Presence; less of an establishing and more of a knowing, where all of you is welcomed, at all times, for all time.
Home again, home again — in the hand and heart of God — who holds the dust of the earth, who traces canyons in the lines of His palm, and as we bow low, in tenderness, a voice —
“Son — daughter — child — to the river, to the table. There you are…Home.”