The cotton harvest is begun, heralded by six tarp-covered bales waiting in the dusk outside the gin. I am neither farmer’s daughter nor farmer’s wife, but I’ve been driving by the fields for upwards of seven years, hearing the talk of the farmers and their families, watching the different machines roll out to do their different works.
I still think of myself as an outsider so much of the time, but the other night I found myself instructing people who don’t drive past the fields in the ways and means of cotton harvest. And I realized that I was telling them of things that I know and love.Somewhere along the way, these fields became my fields, these farmers my farmers; this home — their home forever and ever and I wasn’t born here — is somehow, sometimes, mine.
One of my professors once suggested that a large part of the definition of loving is wrapped up in the idea of knowing. It rings true.
The boy who boasted of camouflage underwear in the nursery years ago now boasts of shooting doves in the “older elementary” Sunday school class. The boys who used to be in that class have deep voices now and stand whole heads taller than me. I know and participate in their stories.
For a long time now I’ve preached the benefits of being from somewhere else — how it keeps you always mindful of your status as “elect exile,” how it points you always on toward Home.
But there’s this other side of the equation: the benefits of belonging somewhere so that the very bumps on the road and bugs on the windshield are somehow yours. If one taste of home — for one who wasn’t born here — can be this sweet, real Home must have a surpassing sweetness.
Because we know that however sweet this Now may be, it will not always be Now. The sweetness dissolves on your tongue, is gone with the swiftness of a thought. Here we have no lasting city — or farm, or children — but we seek the city that is to come.
So that both those at home here and those homeless have the same goal pressing upon them, the same call, the same hunger, and, one day, for those in Christ, the same satisfaction.
*artwork © 2008 by Hope Carr, http://hopecarrart.com. Visit her site for more beautiful work!