Lately, I have felt an all-too familiar sense of exile. As a pastor, I moved around a good bit and was encouraged by my ministry supervisors not to put down roots. Now that I’m retired, divorced, and living on my own, it is easy to given in to the temptation to withdraw, to isolate myself, which leads to a vicious depressive cycle from which it’s hard to escape.
While it does not replace face-to-face contact, I appreciate the community I have come to know through social media. Often, I read posts that give voice to my unexpressed feelings and help me feel less alone.
Today has been a long and emotion filled day. I have spent time with two people close to me who are near the end of their journeys here on earth. One is a younger man, only fifty years old, with young sons. The other is my father, who at age eighty-eight years old has lived a good long life. The younger man has stage four cancer, fully invasive, and gut wrenchingly pain-filled. He entered hospice today and is valiantly attempting to limit his pain medication so that he can be alert enough to say goodbye to his loved ones. He has fought for over four years to stay here with his family. I want him to have more days!
My father lies unmoving in a bed, at times in pain, but mostly not. He’s unable or unwilling to fight to get better, and at eighty-eight his body is stronger than my fifty year old friend’s. Why? Why God? I just don’t understand.
Robert Frost once wrote, “Home is the place where you have to go there, they have to take you in.”
What if you don’t have a home? What if there is no where to go? Homelessness is a harsh reality for many people around the world. People with mental illness are particularly vulnerable. Studies show over 20% of homeless persons have a serious mental illness.
Homelessness is a physical reality and a spiritual one.
My grandmother died two weeks ago. She was 94 and essentially raised three generations of children. Thanks to the care of her youngest son, my uncle, she was able to die in her own room, in the home she had built with her husband over fifty years ago. This was the family homestead. The place where we could go when there was no place else to turn. With her passing, we all feel more set adrift in the treacherous waves of the world.
So, where is home now? I don’t quite know.
How about you? Where is your home?