Sunday, August 21, 2005

On coming home

We have friends who lived in Washington DC for three years or so. We managed to travel out to spend time with them three times whilst they were there - the first time when our youngest was a matter of months old. We travelled for about 16 hours (we went the long way to save money!), and then had the odd experience of arriving "home" - both outbound and return. For me, although it may sound trivial, that means being able to take my shoes off and have a mug of tea with normal milk - the sort you put on cereal, rather than creamer or stuff from a little plastic jigger.

This sensation of arriving somewhere that is "home" is probably akin to the "joy" that C.S.Lewis talks about in "Surprised by Joy". It's certainly related to the "Well, I'm back" that Samwise Gamgee says at the end of "The Lord of the Rings".

I get a similar sensation from being at the Carey Family Conference - although I normally have to keep shoes on outside our room! When we are there, we are amongst people who we are relaxed with - people we enjoy spending time with - people who know us. There's a sense in which the "Family" in the title is the whole group, rather than the people you go with. Of course some people you spend more time with than others, but basically it is a week spent with family - there is a very real sense of the "brothers and sisters" that the Bible talks about. It isn't a closed group, either - each year, the circle of people that we are close to seems to grow by a few more people.

However, Carey only lasts one week per year. Then it's back to the "real" world - of frustrating employers, bits of paper that ought to have been dealt with a month ago, needing to get the school uniforms sorted out and so on.

From a Christian perspective, the good news is that it is correct to put "real" in quote marks above. All the things we are involved in everyday aren't "real" - they are the shadowlands; they are fading; they are momentary. Heaven is somewhere that one day, we'll arrive at and it will be "home" - and we'll never have to leave - and all our family will be there. One of my favourite Christian songs at the moment is "There is a Day" by Phatfish - unfortunately, only barely suitable for congregational singing, but it moves me to tears almost every time I hear it. Here's a link to where you can see the lyrics - but I'd recommend you buy a CD with it on. I think also the first place that I came across these thoughts about heaven were in "The Sacred Romance".


Alan and family are in the process of leaving home. I enjoyed this short post.