There’s No Place Like Home
Apparently, then, our lifelong nostalgia, our longing to be reunited with something in the universe, from which we now feel cut off, to be on the inside of some door which we have always seen from the outside, is no mere neurotic fancy, but the truest index of our real situation. And to be at last summoned inside would be both glory and honour beyond all our merits and also the healing of that old ache.
C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
Living abroad for a season brought my concept of home into sharp focus. It was an exciting adventure in many ways and it was often fun to be the British girl with the cute accent. But sometimes being away got tiring. I wanted to be in a place where the stuff of daily life, like going to post office or doctors, made sense to me. I longed for people who already knew my culture, my history and my stories. I missed my family. I wanted to go home.
Isn’t it like that for all of us sometimes? You don’t have to live in another country to feel like an outsider, or that you don’t really belong. Moments of crisis, in particular, seem to bring to the surface all the ways that we feel lost, misunderstood and out of place.
In her book, When the Heart Waits, Sue Monk Kidd finds some striking parallels between our longing for home and the story of Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy’s moment of crisis occurs when she decides to run away from home and gets caught up in a tornado that whisks her away from her family. Through all the chaos and turmoil of the whirlwind, Dorothy arrives
…in a place that presented her with parts of herself: with a Scarecrow who had lost his brain and needed to learn to think for himself, a Tin Woodman who had lost his heart and needed to learn to feel his own feelings, and a Lion, who had lost his courage and needed to find the inner mettle to be himself. (p.92)
For people of faith, finding our way home along the Yellow Brick Road means rediscovering our identity in the God who loves us high and wide and deep and long. God is not threatened by our questions, doubts and wonderings. He’s not afraid of people who wrestle with ideas and think for themselves, instead of accepting the status quo.
In the security of a relationship where we’re free to ask questions, we begin to realise that we are also free to feel our own feelings. We don’t have to stay numb through fear of what will happen if we say how we really are. We sit by the roadside and grieve, lament and wail, if (when) that is the appropriate response to our lives and our world. Emmanuel, God with us, comes to sit down beside us in the dust and the ashes, the mud and the tears. He stays with us. And stays and stays and stays. God with us.
Throughout the process, we start to recognise that God with us is also God in us. We begin to glimpse what it means to have been created in His image. He names us and defines us. We are fully known and fully accepted, just as we are, free to be our full, glorious selves.
In the end, Dorothy learns that the choice to go home has been hers all along. She can return any time she wants to, under the power of her own two feet and some ruby slippers.
Jesus told a similar story about a son who was lost and realised, in his moment of crisis, that he could go home, too. He set out to walk his own Yellow Brick Road only to be met, while he was still a long way off, by the sight of his Father running towards him, heart and arms stretched wide with compassion, acceptance and love.
Like Dorothy and the lost son, we are all on the journey back home, while at the same time beginning to understand that, in the already-but-not-yet of God’s kingdom, home has been ours all along.