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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

In search of our real home

Sunday, May 6, 2012

When I was growing up, I knew where home was.

I lived at 1107 Sunset Drive in Grand Forks, North Dakota. I lived there with my parents and my brothers and sisters from the time I was about 3 years old until I started high school.

That charcoal grey house with the garden in the backyard was home.

Home was where Dad had planted those yellow rose bushes and Spanish olive trees in the yard.

Home was the place where the old bell from the bell tower at my mother's school sat atop a big wooden pedestal that my dad had built. It was the old bell that Mom would ring when she wanted to call us from playing in the neighborhood to come home for dinner.

Home was the place where my family lived, where we congregated for holiday meals, where we felt safe with one another.

Home was a warm spot out of the cold North Dakota winters.

I met a lonely little girl last week in Arizona. When she was asked where her home was she got a strange look on her face. She wasn't really sure where her home was.

"I don't know," she said, and then she listed a number of places where she had stayed all across the Navajo Reservation over the years of her young life. She had lived in foster homes and group homes and shelters all over Northern Arizona in her 11 years.

She had stayed in Ganado, Wide Ruins, Indian Wells, Polacca, Klageto, and many other places, wherever the Tribe could find her a bed.

Now, on the weekends she stays at an emergency shelter, and during the week she lives at a tribal boarding school on the reservation. She knows that those places are not her home. Every place she goes is just temporary. She's just passing through.

My heart goes out to children like her; children in the foster care system who are scattered all over the country, and many of them are right here in our community.

They go from place to place, from shelter to shelter, from available bed to available bed, but they know they aren't HOME yet.

Country singer Jim Reeves sang an old gospel song that goes like this:

This world is not my home, I'm just a passing through.

My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.

The angels beckon me from heaven's open door,

And I can't feel at home in this world anymore.

Oh Lord you know I have no friend like you,

If heaven's not my home then Lord what will I do.

The angels beckon me from heaven's open door

And I can't feel at home in this world anymore.

As a Christian, I know that Jesus has gone on before me to prepare a Heavenly Home for me. In John 14:2-3, Jesus said, "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."

The writer of Hebrews says that those who are followers of Christ are only strangers and pilgrims on this earth, and that we are constantly seeking a homeland.

Unlike my little friend I met in Arizona, I have a comfortable home where I gather with my family. I feel safe and comfortable here. But, I do know that this is just temporary too.

I have a Heavenly Home awaiting me, and I pray my little friend will find her Forever Home there too.

Doug Dezotell is the pastor of Mt. Lebanon UMC and Cannon UMC. He is a former staff writer for the Times-Gazette, and he is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a friend to many. He can be contacted at dougmdezotell@yahoo.com

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Doug Dezotell
Memories and Musings
Doug Dezotell is pastor of Cannon United Methodist Church and a former staff writer for the Times-Gazette.