I'm not an optimist. I'm a prisoner of hope.
- Desmond Tutu
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.