Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Place to Call Home

Last week, when I posted a little piece about our preparations for and ensuing vacation, my cousin contacted me and mentioned recalling memories of his summers at the beach.  That triggered more of my childhood recollections as well, particularly those of seaside summer days, or revival week at a nearby camp meeting,  My upbringing entwined itself with church activities and was designed to be wholesome, if not disgustingly "vanilla" by today's standards.  That's OK, though.  Throughout my life, in times of darkest despair or stomach-churning confusion I had something to return to, some basis to draw me back to the One Who loved me and created me, even if I had gotten where I was by running from Him.

I have to admit, the emotion of the "altar call" drew me to give my life to Christ -- more than once.  I even developed a certain disdain for "Just As I Am," and the booming voice of fire and brimstone preachers lowered to just above a whisper as they beckoned, "Come, just come.  God is waiting for you right now."  I'd nod my head in Amen when other pastors preached against this "smoke and mirrors" technique that "confuses the real reason why we're here -- lifelong commitment -- with thirty minutes of regret."  Truth is, later in life, when I'd collapsed in exhaustion from all that running, or I'd gotten myself so lost I didn't know which way to turn, it was not some verse of Scripture that drew me back within the stone walls of God's fold.  It was the longing to return to those "easier days," riding home from the shore, late at night, sun burnt and sandy, lying across the deck in the back window of my parents LTD, listening to the seams of the road whirr-thump underneath us.  It was sweltering evenings at revival, sitting on rickety wooden chairs with my brother and I tucked between our parents and fanning ourselves with old "palm frond" fans from the local funeral home.  It was army blankets and picnics at Westinghouse during Dad's lunch break.  It was wearing out crayon after crayon over sheets of paper covering the rough concrete steps of my parents' front porch, when we'd run out of things to do, or couldn't find an inch of shade in the yard.  It was emotion, plain and simple.

Emotion drew me back to a time when I felt safe and loved and "home."  Emotion made me want that again, though reason may have reminded me "you can't go back."  Emotion drove me to finding the roots of that upbringing, roots that ran deeper than leaves on my family tree, leaves that blew to the far reaches of the country, or whithered and died.  Emotion that kept me searching for the Rock on which to build my life, and later my home. 

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