My five year old, though he’s never seen a white Christmas, started the season expecting snow for the holiday. Instead, the day surprised with a warmth unusual for even a Mississippi Christmas: the kind of breezy warmth that defined my own childhood Christmases in Florida. Now, 800 miles from where I used to run the fields with my cousins, my children ran the fields with theirs. And the wind kept the chimes chiming, and I felt as wistfully at home as I ever did as a little girl at the family Christmas party.
This Christmas caught us in the middle of a move: one dear old house standing empty, and most of our worldly goods stored waiting for the “new” house to be painted and ready for us, so that we’re somehow both home and homeless for the holidays. I sat in the porch swing with a baby, tracing the paths that have made Mississippi home.
It overwhelms me: all the roads and decisions: how I chose piano over ballet classes at age ten, how seven years afterward it was the music program that drew me to the college where I eventually graduated with a degree in English, how so many years later my family is rooted and growing here, in this clay-riddled soil.
I’d fall to pieces in terror at the consequences of decisions were I not confident that a kind Sovereign knows and ordains all of them. He isn’t surprised by our unexpected holiday home-purchase; He wasn’t shocked when I stood alone in my old backyard yesterday and cried for the grief of moving to a better, bigger house less than three miles away. In all my changes, He does not change.
And as I revel in the extended family home place and weep for the little house to which I’ve brought home four babies, I’m reminded that the place for which I’m really longing isn’t here yet. I’ve been wistful for home as long as I can remember, and the goodness of all these good places only whisper of a better place.
In a few weeks I’ll be a stranger on a new street, but though we’ll settle in and love that street one day, that will not be home, either.
I want, with those in the Hebrews “hall of faith,” to acknowledge that I am a stranger and exile on earth and make it clear that I am seeking a homeland (Heb. 11:13-14). I want, with Paul, to forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead: that prize of the upward call if God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:13-14).
Home is yet to come.
©Stacy Crouch 2021