Daniel and I got home late Sunday night from yet another trip. This time, we were in the Finger Lakes Region of New York at a VRBO “big house” with Daniel’s siblings in our first ever Yutzy Sibling Gathering of its kind. Daniel’s sisters, Lena, Rachel, and Ruth were there, as were Rachel’s husband, Ivan, and Ruth’s husband, Andrew. Daniel’s late brother, Joseph’s widow, Ruby, was also there along with Daniel and me. Eight of us in the house at Martin Retreat. (https://www.vrbo.com/916045)
The house was spacious and beautiful and tastefully decorated. It sported five bathrooms, two gas fireplaces, a huge sunken living room, plus a large kitchen and dining area. It easily could sleep twenty people, and it also had a large, large room that could serve as a chapel, a banquet hall or a recreation room. Stashed in a corner storage space were tables and chairs. We discussed what in the world that room had been before a Horning Mennonite couple bought the property some years ago and renovated it. (Maybe, we thought, a large swimming pool?)
The grounds were grand, too, with a pond, a gazebo, outdoor picnic area with a grill and grass and trees and flowers and landscaping. It was such a pleasant, restful place to be. Even though it rained all weekend, we had a relaxing and special time together, and that was what we were hoping for, after all. (But with no Wifi, no TV, and sometimes spotty phone reception? Yes! It was peaceful!)
We spent the two days eating, laughing, playing games, looking at pictures, talking, and (of course) eating some more. Then, on Sunday afternoon, we loaded up, said good-byes, and traveled home. Daniel drove the whole way, capably bringing us the winding, mountainous roads from Skuse, New York, nearly 400 miles to our familiar, flat, Delaware farm. It was wonderful to see home again. We came into the farmhouse at Shady Acres and smelled the familiar smells of our house, saw the faces we love, heard the familiar voices, and we were truly home.
We got a good night’s rest in our own bed and in the early morning pre-alarm slumber, a dream about My Sweet Mama disturbed my peaceful dozing and woke me straight up. I lay there in the warmth of our bed and realized afresh the wonder of being home. It isn’t just the familiarity of everything, but the state of being that settles into my heart. I’m home. I feel safe here, surrounded by love and the ordinary things of life. There are exquisite delights here, too. A fire in the pellet stove, my fading fall flowers outside, and the trees that are losing their leaves, waving happily in the fall breezes, my chair that has long since ceased to be new, shelter, food, my laptop that is finally working right again, our own food in the fridge, our own sheets, towels and blankets. The people that I love best.
And so, I thought about home and stretched the edges of my soul out to enjoy this moment, this time –!
And just as quickly, I felt that soul tug that reminded me about another HOME. One that I profess to be looking forward to, and about which I often feel a strange, mystic curiosity. I was suddenly struck by the whole idea of what it was like to come home Sunday night and wondered about the parallels to my Heavenly HOME.
What will it be like when I step into the place we call “Heaven?” Will it fill my senses with the familiar? Will I feel at home? I so often struggle when I’m in a strange place with feeling out of sorts, not quite right, and that, no matter how wonderful the sights, how good the food, how comfortable the accommodations or how royal the treatment, it isn’t home. One of the things that makes being away bearable is to at least have people around me that I know and love; but even that can be as fickle as the insecurities I feel about whether they really know me and still love me. Or not. Is it sacrilege for me to hope that, along with seeing my Blessed Redeemer, arriving in Heaven will be more about a sense of coming HOME than anything else? The sights that bedazzle, all the glories, all the streets of gold and gates of pearl, all that is wondrous to behold, somehow seem less attractive than just being HOME.
HOME – with people I know and love and that I know love me. HOME – where there are no dark unfamiliar rooms to struggle through (on my way to a strange bathroom in the middle of the night) and where I won’t wake up in the morning wondering where I am. HOME – where there are familiar sights and scents, where the memories aren’t painful and separation, disappointment, reversal and loss are non-existent. Where sin, selfishness, divorce or death will not disturb the peace of being HOME.
How I love this earthly place that Daniel and I call home. Shady Acres. There really is no place on earth that I would rather be. But even this place has things that I wish it didn’t. There are some painful memories. There have been days of disappointment and misunderstanding and chaos and reversal. There has been sin and selfishness and grief to mar the landscape of our lives. But with all of that, it is still home and it is ours and I love it so. It feels even dearer to me when I’ve been gone awhile and come back to the familiar space that houses far more of my life’s memories than any other place.
I wonder if that is how it will be when I reach that other HOME. If maybe, perchance, it will feel like I’m getting back from a long journey, and that I will find myself to be exactly where I wanted to be. The One I Love Best – The One Who Loved Me Enough to Give His Life for Me, will be there to welcome me HOME, not as a guest, not as a stranger, but as a member of The Family. The people, the sights, the sounds, even the smell of Heaven just might be even more familiar and welcome to this life weary traveler than our beloved Shady Acres could ever be.
I do not have a “death wish.” I truly do love the people in my life and I love living. But when I think about Heaven, and that this sometimes restless and often pensive soul of mine will neither fidget nor lament ever again — well, that’s worth pondering.
Take notice, my brothers and sisters. Think about that HOME! Think about all the comforts of home here and imagine HOME without any of the negatives and all of the positives and so much more! Jesus said that He was going to prepare a place for us. He’s expecting us. He wants us there. Not because we are perfect or even because we are (as most people think they are) “at least marginally good.” He wants us because we belong to Him. We are a part of His Family, and He wants us there, with Him.
Revelation 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
This, I believe.
And my heart gives grateful praise.