Deeper Well
By David Morris

What Feels Like Home? Part 2

How many sayings come to mind that are related to home? Home is where the heart is ... Home is where you hang your hat ... You can’t go home again ... There’s no place like home.

In my last blog entry, I brought up the subject of home. I think it’s a topic for our time: Where is home? Do we get enough of it? Why have so many of us lost it?

I relayed a feeling of home that I experienced upon visiting the eastern Georgia gravesite of my grandfather, a man I never knew because he died of an illness in his mid-forties, while my father was still an infant.

As it turns out, a couple of weeks later I had the opportunity on a Saturday morning to visit the town where my grandfather died. Westward in central Oklahoma he had found a preaching job for a small monthly salary. It was the 1930s, the time of the Great Depression and monstrous dust storms. My dad’s older brother tells me they used the tornado storm shelters just to get away from the dust.

I found the church my grandfather pastored, and where I’m told he collapsed while preaching in the pulpit. The original building was gone and replaced, but that didn’t matter. The doors were locked, but I wasn’t really all that concerned. Simply seeing the flatness of the town, the Spartan architecture, and knowing that this was the spot was satisfying.

I was approached by a man who told me that he and his wife had just finished the cleaning chores in preparation for Sunday services. I had a million questions but couldn’t think of anything to say and didn’t want to force it. Words weren’t really the point. I was looking to put a place in my mind that would bring some light to who I was, and where I was from, even if for this short moment.

The man told me a little about when the current structure was built, decades after my grandfather had preached there. But I didn’t want to take up much of his time, and I could see he was a guy who probably doesn’t waste too many words.

As we parted and he headed back to his wife and his truck, he stopped, turned and said, “You’re welcome to come by for worship in the morning.” I thanked him and smiled back.

Although I had to leave for the airport right away, that invitation sealed the deal. Being asked to be included in Sunday services—that stretched all the way back to the 1930s—helped me realized that I had found what I was looking for.

David Morris, PhD, is the editorial director for Guideposts Books. He keeps busy mending his old house, playing guitar, and volunteering. He, his wife and two daughters live in northern New Jersey. Follow David on Twitter @davidrmorris or get the RSS feed to his Deeper Well blog.

 

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Your Comments (3)

Thanks for sharing this, bro.

David, what a touching and inspiring story! Love your blog and everything related to Guideposts. By way of introduction, I have been liaison to Guideposts benefactor Tom Harken (not the politician) for over 25 years and have had the pleasure of meeting the late and dear Mrs. Peale on several occasions and many of those associated with Peale Center for Christian Living.

Your story and Stephen's comments reminded me of my great-grandfather, an East Texas farmer and revered Baptist preacher in the 1920s and '30s. He, too, was pastor of three country churches. Horseback and running late one Sunday morning during the Depression, he took a shortcut through some woods and came upon one of his congregants, who was squirrel-hunting and obviously not planning to attend church.

They greeted each other, and the man sheepishly said something about having to feed his family. Understanding his plight, my great-grandfather told him not to be concerned, then, citing one of the Old Testament's absolving reasons for doing work on the Sabbath, he said, "It appears that your ox is in the ditch," and rode on.

One would hope the hunter spent the rest of the day searching the Scriptures for that verse.

Thank you for your inspirational writings, and I hope you play the guitar better than I. I know two chords. One of them is C, and the other ain't.

Very interesting story from your family's past. I also got to visit a similar church, but it was on Prince Edward Island, Canada. My father was a Baptist preacher for 65 years. His first churches in 1933 were three tiny ones several miles apart. During my teen years I got to visit each one of them. In his day, there were no paved roads, so it was horse and buggy to get to the churches for services at 10 am, 2 pm and 7 pm. In the winter, it was by horse and sleigh, often up the frozen river. Two of the churches have since closed. One remains open -- the one that my father was ordained in.