Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Seeking a Homeland

It’s always difficult to know where to start. Pick a point in time—some event or first thought—and inevitably something that precedes it will show up as significant in getting there. Our lives are part of one ever-flowing river that begins and ends in God. Let me take as one example the wandering impulse that runs through my maternal grandparents and their descendants. For all I know, it might go back further than that, but this is my story, and two generations back is far enough. My grandparents have lived in over 100 places—not because of military or job transfers—they just move around a lot. My aunt has tended to do the same thing, and so have my parents. We lived in eight different places before I was a teenager, and most of our moves were out of state. It seems weird to my wife, but for me it was all I knew. I adapted well for the most part, although I can’t say I was much for building long-term friendships. We did stay put throughout my teenage years, but after I got married, my parents started moving again and haven’t really stopped.

I’m getting ahead of myself, but let me finish this out. I now look at my parents’ moving around from a few different perspectives. Personally, I don’t want the same lifestyle. It’s possible that I may have no choice but to move around for a career or other circumstances. But if I could have my way, I would prefer a more rooted existence. To be born, raised, live out my life, and die in one valley sounds to me like paradise. I’m speaking here of physical location, but there’s another perspective more relevant to the matter at hand—in my mind, something very similar has been going on. I have wandered far and wide, and now I am passionately searching for rootedness. Was my mental wandering my own way of living out the same impulse that runs in my family? Perhaps. At least, it helps me to sympathize with my parents and provides some beginnings of an explanation for my own condition. The account might be cleaner if I didn’t have to bring it up, but something would probably be missed in the process. But it’s time that we got down to the real point of this narrative.

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