Coming Home

Not all who wander are lost, penned J.R.R. Tolkien  in his poem ‘All that is gold does not glitter.’IMG_3126

But not all who stay put are actually home, either.

On Sunday I visited a different Roma church in Serbia.  They had a guest preacher from Sweden who spoke about the Prodigal Son—a sermon that I have probably heard hundreds of times.  The pastor had a very stoic, quiet way of preaching—no dramatics or flairs of gesticulation.  However, his words were profound and deep, and it was if I was hearing the story for the first time—imagining the father running headlong toward the son.

“How bizarre, how very outrageous, ” I thought, “that Jesus told this parable as a picture of God’s relationship with us.”

For the few days I was in this village, I listened to many stories—stories of heartbreak, stories of searching for healing through witchcraft, stories of survival in the harshest of poverty conditions, stories of abandonment and longing for love, stories of forgiveness and hoping for the ability to forgive.

These are just human stories, really, and the common core is a longing, a searching for safety, love, purpose, and security—and these are words we would hope would define “home.”

The elder brother never left his home in the parable, but we see that he was internally in exile just as his brother was physically in exile. In some ways, it seems like the younger brother had an advantage.  His body, mind, and spirit were in unity with the desire to leave home and his father’s embrace—and when he came home, he did so also wholeheartedly and ‘whole-bodily.’IMG_0449

The elder brother was divided—his body at home, but his spirit not able to embrace what ‘home’ meant.  That is, to enjoy the full inheritance as his father’s son, safe and secure in his father’s love.

“How then do you bring your body home?” Nouwen asks.  “By letting it participate in your deepest desire to receive and offer love.”  This quote is a mixture of the two brothers—one was bringing his body home, and the other was being invited to receive and offer love, and so come home internally.

There was a time in my life when I tried to physically run away from the Father, fleeing  to Europe in my early 20’s to come to terms with the tragic death of a dear friend and roommate. It was somewhere in Italy where I began the journey ‘home,’ after having an encounter with the pursuing and “running-towards-us” Father.

This kind of homecoming was far easier than the times I have struggled as the elder brother—bodily home but internally not able to enjoy and accept my inheritance.

Not all who wander are lost…IMG_2037

Sometimes it feels that you are traveling on a path you don’t recognize.  There is fear and uncertainty, because the way forward is shrouded in the unknown.  Faith is the only thing leading you forward.

“Trust is so hard, since you have nothing to fall back on,” says Nouwen.   “The new country is where you are called to go, and the only way to go there is naked and vulnerable.”

Maybe you don’t recognize the way because you are going somewhere you have not yet been.

Maybe you are coming home.  IMG_0452






9 responses to “Coming Home

  1. So beautiful. This is the heart of it. As a wanderer and a woman of faith, this is so “close to home” for me.

  2. How wonderful Melody! Your vulnerability is deeply challenging. Hope to see you soon.

  3. “…safety, love, purpose, and security—and these are words we would hope would define ‘home.'”

    Perhaps our definition or understanding of our earthly home shifts, settles, and shifts again many times throughout our lives. But what doesn’t change is our Father’s desire for us to abide in Him.

    Such a good reminder, Melody.

  4. projectmckenzies

    Great post- thank you so much, Mel.


    Sent from my iPhone

  5. God bless you Melody. Giving thanks for you and for sharing such encouragement. 🙂

  6. This is beautiful! I read Nouwen’s “Coming Home” a few months ago and also had a much deeper revelation of the Father’s love which started a chain of breakthrough that have been a homecoming for me, a journey I’m still on.

    I found this through the link on Velvet Ashes (I live in Asia) and have been all over your blog this morning! I Iove your stories and insights! It’s been fun to spend a chunk of Sunday morning (church is on Saturday here) learning from the Roma church while I drink coffee in my Kathmandu apartment!

    • Thank you! That is really neat to imagine you in Kathmandu receiving encouragement from God’s work among the Roma. Nouwen has been an important ‘guide’ in my journey as well. Blessings!

  7. Pingback: Casual Friday Missionary Care Resources | Paracletos

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