Monday, August 24, 2015

How To Find Your Way Home

The little spring gurgled as it rambled though the deepest part of the wooded area on my parents’ property.

It was a narrow vein of artisan water, clear and cold, which found its way to the surface and grew more fierce and wide the farther east you followed it. But on the acreage where I lived, it lapped gently and spilled over rocks, etching out its path.

As children, it was impossible to ignore the shimmery reflection of light that could be seen dancing on its surface like flecks of glitter.

My brother, the one closest in age, and I would duck into the jungle-like overgrowth on our farm, to eluded Mom's constant ability to find extra chores for us to do, if we were underfoot. We would race from the sturdy white house, down the narrow lane and over the fence that kept the cows from going wherever they pleased.

Along the way, we would run and laugh and push, until we reached the edge of the water. The place where light pierced through the tops of trees and the breeze rustled thorough cedars.

In that space we were the captains of our own lives.

We crafted small boats out of whatever we could find. Dried bark always made a great hull, to which we added sticks, leaves and wild berries and ran along the tangle of brush on the shoreline to see whose boat would win the race to the barbed wire fence which marked the end of our property.

There the little rafts would wobble out of sight, as they made their way to the east and we would argue about whose boat was sure to make it all the way to open water or at least go the farthest without sinking.

Sometimes we might love our current boat too much to let it go, so we would snag it up and run upstream and do it all again.

We were wild navigators, reckless in our efforts, often causing them to slip below the surface of the water. And, almost always, we would be mud caked and soaked from head to toe.

In this place we passed hours and days and even entire seasons.

In summer the thick leaves hung like umbrellas to give us shade as we splashed in the stream catching tadpoles and turtles.

In the fall, leaves laid down a thick carpet for us to run on, as we built forts and imagined we were storing up wild grapes that stained our fingers and clothes.

In winter seasons, this same place softened the harsh winds and dipping temperatures. And the tracks along the shoreline showed us that we shared our playground with many animals.

And then, once again, spring would arrive and every blade of grass, budding tree and wild flower began a whole new season of adventures.

I never once remember dad or mom scolding us for being such a mess when we emerged from our latest adventure.

How deeply grateful I am that we had a home with great food and piles of good books.  A place where stories were told, but there was grace to be messy and creative, as we explored and lived out those early years.

Because life has its own twists and turns and seasons, now 58 years have passed and my dad’s place is kinda, officially, on the market.

It is an odd collection of feelings rippling across my heart.

That place has a certain smell. A familiar scent of family and years and memories and knee-high grass waving in the field.

If comfortable could be a location, I happen to know its address. 

I always thought we were poor. All of us living in that old farm house without a single elaborate feature. Unless the built-in cabinet framed with pine, in the center of the living room, counts. 

But every square foot of living space there is like my favorite pair of slippers. Nothing fancy….just all the uncomfortable edges worn off. 

The years, with all their trouble and trials, were softened by living in this place. 

They raised six of us there in the two bedroom, one bath home. No granite counter tops. No family room. 

And it fit us like love does.  

Home and family. The hard, the dark, the laughter and the fried chicken with real mashed potatoes, lumps and all, drenched in white gravy. Gravy that had flecks of pepper and chucks of browned crunchy pieces. 

In this place we all kind of found ourselves and lost ourselves and found ourselves again.

Home is like that. 

Mostly, I took it for granted that my parents would always be there, peering out the big double pane window in the kitchen, hoping someone would come by and interrupt their bird watching. 

And watching my dad age... it’s painful and beautiful all in the same moment. 

His hard edges are softening.

His laugh is deeper.

He is tender with babies.

He says I love you.

And I found this gift just before his 80th birthday last week. It's a promise we can all hold on to. 

As much as my heart has wandered in the years since we ran in the wooded area, what I know is that God has been carrying me home. 

He has been carrying those I love home. 

And for a time He has used this place for our family, to be a shelter, a refuge, a haven, a sanctuary. 

Not so long ago, I drove up the narrow lane and parked. From there I walked deep into the thicket of trees, maneuvering my way deeper into the overgrown places where I had ran wild and free as a kid. 

Before life choked the dreams and did its best to destroy me.

The stream no longer flows through this property. They came through and built up the highway and hit the vein that fed our little brook.

And I was sad about that for years. Until the Lord reminded me of this verse: "Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me..."

Yes. Yes. Rivers of living water will spill over and flow from those who believe in Jesus.

Jesus is the truest of artisan springs, that never runs dry. And He is in the business of drawing people home to His heart.

What I had growing up was a great home.

What I have now is a relationship with Jesus, who promises an eternal home.

And I've learned a few other things. Things like...  I'm not good at being the captain of my own life.

And how all the things I've tried to navigate alone, apart from God, came up empty and hallow in the end. 

Looking back I can see how God Himself has fiercely protected me, gently guided me, allowed me to be broken and redesigned.

How He has literally redirected the very course of my life.

And this place is just a physical address, but home is wherever there is love. 

That is what I’m learning and what I’m taking with me when someone else picks up their mail from the end of the long lane. 

But here a piece of my heart still runs wild, because this is where I began to see the beauty of God's creation spilling over and the place I learned to dream.

This place, this home, is part of my story, part of how I ultimately found my way Home.


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© Rhonda Quaney