I pause for a moment. Hem and haw. Open my mouth part way, stop, tilt my head, reconsider my words, and try to say something that will make sense.
Eventually, an answer comes, one that is typically more convoluted than anyone expects. I hope it makes sense; sometimes it does, to me at least. I don’t really have a rehearsed answer, but maybe I should. One of these days.
To what question?
“Where are you from?”
I have never lived anywhere more than five years. I’m making the rounds around the Maritimes, round and round. From a young age, I have always understood that I am from away; wherever I go, I am from away. This is especially true since I have always lived in small town or on rural roads where everybody knows everybody. So no matter how long I stay, regardless of how many government documents I have that address on, I’m still not really from there.
Furthermore, I feel like I have three homes or so. The place I live in now. Whenever I leave school or church and say, “I’m going home now,” I go to that place. It’s where I lay my head down. Practically speaking, that is home.
But then, home is where family is. Going “home” while I was in university meant going back to the place where my parents live, where there is still a bed and a room with my name on it. Going “home” means driving a few hours, eagerly anticipating the long conversations with my mom and my dad, the aroma of my favourite dish cooking in the oven, the feeling that all, in that little moment of time, is right in this world.
But then, as I am further removed from being there full time, I feel less like I am “from” there. So I’ve gone even further back to the place listed on my birth certificate, though I’ve no memory of childhood there, having been too young to remember anything there. But I went back for my undergraduate degree and really came to love that city and people there. A while back, I said I was from there and it felt “right!”
And yet, most of the time, I still hem and haw and ponder and come up with the answer, “Well, I’m from all over. My dad’s a pastor and we’ve moved around a lot.” People nod, especially those who are from pastor’s or military families. They know.
And you know what, I’m cool with that. After all, this plot of turf on planet earth is only my temporary home, as Carrie Underwood sings, because my eternal home awaits. I can’t wait to be heaven bound and see Jesus face to face and finally say, “I’m home.”
But until then, I think on the words of Paul the Apostle:
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith… (Philippians 1:21-25).
So as I become a pastor myself, with more moves on the horizon, I look forward to making a new home where I go, knowing that I am just on my way home.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Plead the Fifth.”