Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Home Is Where

Aden’s mama has become a celebrity. She went to New York City last week to promote her business on the "Elevator Pitch" segment of an MSNBC business show. Folks all over the place had the DVR’s set for 7:30 in the morning on Sunday and a few of us early risers actually saw the piece through bleary eyes as it aired.

She did well. And, if I had $500,000 to invest, Urban Pirates would get it.

But this isn’t about Urban Pirates or venture capital or even the fact that Aden’s mama got to meet Howard Dean and sneaked a peak into the Saturday Night Live studio to see her teenage heartthrob Jon Bon Jovi. It is, like all good stories, about clear vision and absolute truth.

A week or so before the trip to the big city, Aden and his mama were out walking in the snow. It was just the two of them and his mama confided to Aden that she was a little nervous about the whole thing.

"Why?" he asked, those huge brown eyes opened wide like a camera aperture letting in all possible light.

"Because," she told him, "I don’t want to mess up."

And because she is his mama and she knows that, at seven, his heart is still pure and his thoughts are still true, she asked, "What will I do if I mess up?"

Without a moment’s hesitation, he said, "You just come home."

Of course.

We mess up all the time. We make wrong choices. We say things we don’t mean. We get lazy and don’t live up to our potential. We assume, we presume, we pretend.

And when it’s all over, there’s only one thing to do: We go home.

I don’t remember when I first memorized the famous line from Robert Frost’s "The Death of the Hired Man," but I do know that it resonated in me like my own heart beat. "Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in."

Home is the place where, after you’ve messed up, they still let you in the door without a word of explanation. Home is the place where, after you’ve made the wrong choice and taken years to figure it out and haven’t a clue as to how to make it up to the ones you hurt or even how to say you’re sorry, they meet you on the porch with tears of relief in their eyes. Home is the place where, after you’ve said words that were never true, words that were born of hurt and anger and frustration and can never ever ever be taken back, they come out into the yard, onto the road to pull you in for a feast of fatted calf.

We are all prodigals. Our riotous living may be nothing more than failing to pay attention, but at some point every one of us has left home without a backward glance, secure in – but oblivious to – the reality of home. And every one of us has found him or herself standing on a street corner in some far country – empty, wrung out, used up – when, suddenly, in a moment of clear vision and absolute truth the solution appears like a billboard in Times Square: Home.

It’s nearly Christmas, the season in which Christians celebrate the arrival into a less-than-perfect world of One who was himself, in a way, a prodigal. He left his home, emptied himself, used himself up for the good of the other prodigals and, after experiencing the suffering of separation, returned home.

It’s the same story. Over and over again. And Aden already understands it. Not bad for a seven-year-old.

"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." Amen and amen.

Copyright 2009

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