"Home, home on the range, where the deer and the antelope play …."
I was driving along Highway 287 in Montana the other day, just south of Ennis, and spied a small herd of pronghorn antelope grazing off in the field not too far from the Rusty Star where I was staying. One of the critters bolted upright and “alerted” – turning and twitching his ears every which way like radar antennae.
“What did you hear?” inquired one of his grazing companions.
“I thought I heard a discouraging word, but was mistaken” he replied, and then drifted back to his ruminations.
I have had the great fortune of living in a number of different places in my life, but the one thing for which I am most thankful is that in all my travels and sojourns, I have never been any place I couldn’t call “home” (from Middle English hām).
That’s where the term for a small town (hamlets – or homelettes, if you will) comes from. Interestingly, the words home and haunt share the same root (heim haunt = homewards). I don’t know what to make of that, but I found it fascinating; and it may explain why the places we go are frequently referred to as local haunts. They aren’t places where ghosts dwell, but where our spirits freely pass in and out – where we feel most at ease.
Home, to me, is never about geography; rather, it is about that which attracts. I am drawn to home, because that is where my heart yearns to be. I am drawn to home, because that is where my family lives. I am drawn to home, because that is where I find my wife – the love of my life – and I yearn to be with her. I am drawn to home, because that is where I can be most real – and I yearn to be real. Home is an attractive place, with its own special gravitational pull.
I think I am able to feel at home in so many different places and around so many different people because I have discovered that God has made a place for me in his own heart, so that wherever I go, God is there. God is attractive, and I have never known a time when I was not yearning to be with him – and the great joy of life is discovering that God yearns to be with each of us.
I suspect many of us dwell in the heart of God and simply haven’t discovered the truth of the matter. Like young Dorothy of Oz, we travel the yellow brick road of life trying to get back home, only to discover the magic is as close as our very own heels.
Although I feel at home wherever I am, I must also confess that there are times I feel I am a stranger living in a strange land. I suspect there may some gypsy blood in me, for as content as I may often be, there is always a tugging at my heart, a desire to explore yet other places, other peoples, and other things.
This restlessness is not a bad thing. On the contrary, it is a delight; it is motivational. It gets us up out of our easy chairs and into the scrum of life. It’s dirty, it’s messy, it’s chaotic, and it’s unpredictable – but so what? I would rather wear out from activity than rust away in my hermetically sealed castle. If one seldom leaves home, can it be said that one is really even living?
Maybe the antelope and deer seldom hear discouraging words out there on the range because home is not defined by or contained by four walls and a roof, but by their relations with the Creator of all things, and of all peoples. They are what they are, and that’s enough for them.
May it be that way for all of us in this, our world. Peace and blessings to you, from my home to yours.