Archive for August, 2009

Home sweet Home? Reflections on another year of life…

Birthdays are an interesting thing. If you are like me, you get slightly reflective – to the point of being slightly neurotic.

Case in point – my blog last year on my birthday, I wrote from Alexandria Egypt – and it was one of those transformative experiences where I look back and realized it was more impactful in it’s wake than in it’s present. More than anything, I’m grateful that I’ve been able to visit some places in the world that have allowed for me to see, think, and feel differently.

Many times I’ve wondered how I’d be different if I never left home and ventured out into something different.  I like who I am because of it – I’ve learned how to be “at home” most anywhere – urban, rural, domestic, international – I truly like that I can find the beauty of another culture and embrace it and love it and do my best to call it “home.”

But there is something that I’ve never really put into words before that is a darker side of experiencing so much of the world. It’s about not having a sense of home.

If you’ve met me and my family, home has a very strong geographical sense. My family has dwelled in the same town, and occupied the same home for nearly 50 years. Home is primarily geographical.

But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found myself asking a question of myself that I have a hard time answering – where is home? What is home?

When you are a child, home is the place that you know you will be when you return from going somewhere. After church, we go…home. After school, we go…home. After work, we go…home.  It’s the center of existence – an unchanging place in a changing world.

This past week I spent three days hiking miles and miles into the backcountry of the Rocky Mountains, and stopped and camped at a different site each night. I had great conversations with backpackers along the way. One couple I met with we enjoyed a meal together and talked.  They were honestly glad to see me because they had only talked with each other in the past week. I was welcome company…we shared a bottle of wine together around a campfire and talked about life.

We were strangers in life enjoying a chance encounter on the journey, trying to create some sense of home in a place that isn’t very conducive to home. Isn’t that a metaphor for life?

One of my best friends and I had a lot of talk time when I was in Colorado – we discussed the usual – careers, family, romance (or lack thereof), sports, business, politics, etc. Then we talked about how the longest he’s been in one place in the last nine years has been fifteen months. And that was Iraq.

When you are single and mobile, and not necessarily attached, home is hard to make.  We’ve both reflected on this – He far more than I – and realized that living in an interim state is difficult.  Home is meant to convey a sense of permanence, but when it isn’t there there is a sense of lacking.

A scene from the film Garden State haunted me when I first watched it years ago. It’s between the two main characters – Zach Braff and Natalie Portman. They are talking about the idea of “home.”

Andrew Largeman: You know that point in your life when you realize the house you grew up in isn’t really your home anymore? All of a sudden even though you have some place where you put your shit, that idea of home is gone.


Sam: I still feel at home in my house.


Andrew Largeman: You’ll see one day when you move out it just sort of happens one day and it’s gone. You feel like you can never get it back. It’s like you feel homesick for a place that doesn’t even exist. Maybe it’s like this rite of passage, you know. You won’t ever have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it’s like a cycle or something. I don’t know, but I miss the idea of it, you know. Maybe that’s all family really is. A group of people that miss the same imaginary place.

Ever feel this way?  When home was once a place, and is now just an idea?  What made it change?

Mountains, Gandalf, I want to see mountains again!

I’m sitting in what might be one of the coolest coffee shops I’ve ever been in in Boulder, CO – The Cup. Best of several different worlds converge here: good fair trade coffee, sassy service, awesome music, great fun atmosphere, university students gallore, and…mountains.

I mean, here’s what happened today that just validated why this place is awesome: I came in all disheveled from spending three days backcountry camping in Rocky Mountain National Park, looking all Colorado & all, and I grab a cup and the cashier says, “if you want to sink shower here, no one will be worried dude.”

Nice.

If you are ever looking for an amazing vacation to see all of the beauty and wonder of creation, just one word: Colorado. I got in late on Friday to visit my long-time friend from college, and we crashed Pikes Peak on Saturday and then climbed Mount Rosa on Sunday.  Monday I tooled around Old Colorado City and found another great haunt to perch in and read for a little while.

Then I caught the tram to Denver, rented a car, and headed to Boulder to catch up with two friends from college who have been here for the last five (!) years.

Boulder is a great town…think Madison or Austin but a little more chill and a lot healthier. And more tatts. Seriously – this place is wonderful. When Drew and Kim told me about it, I didn’t believe it at first…but it’s gorgeous.

Other interesting thing about Colorado: Most people who live here aren’t from here.

After three days of being in Rocky Mountain National Park, camping and sitting and just taking in beautiful vista after vista, I feel restored. I forget this about myself sometimes, but getting out in seeing the beauty of creation just brings something to my soul that I can’t put into words. I breathe deeply, gaze out into the horizon, and am in awe of how amazing this planet is.

My mom said once my eyes turn bluer when I’m outside.

Maybe it’s because I’m getting back to what gives me life.

Bilbo was right – “Mountains, Galdalf, I want to see mountains again!”

I think I’m already ready for another adventure.

Cougars? Manthers? and D.I.N.K.U.M? Oh sigh.

I was looking at a friend’s tweet about the National Single Cougars Convention in San Francisco.  I then paused and thought about the proliferation of all of these semi-new terms that describe relationships. Cougars. Manthers. My new favorite? D.I.N.K.U.M. Double Income No Kids Unbelievable Mortgage.

Oh my.

Relationships are confusing enough already. Adding other terms to describe them now seems to make an already confusing situation even more difficult.  The thing with most of these terms (check out urbandictionary.com…but make sure your kids aren’t in the room) that strikes me is that so many are animal in nature. It saddens me that in the present relational state of America, we are comparing ourselves and our relationships to the mating practices of animals.

“You and me baby ain’t nothin’ but mammals so let’s do it like they do on the discovery channel.” It’s sad that The Bloodhound Gang put out these lyrics with their unexpected hit Discovery Channel that was intended to be satirical.  Ten years later, we now define ourselves and our relationship practices in terms of…mammals looking to go out and get lucky.

Sigh.

Is there a better alternative?

A new piece from Christianity Today is making the rounds in my circles of friends advocating for young marriage. While I don’t exactly qualify for this anymore, but it does make me think a lot as I serve students who often do not get married until, at earliest, their late twenties. Advocating for early marriage is even less popular than several of the Evangelical Christian causes – there is lots of data against it – but Mark Regnerus asks good questions that help us understand the real issues.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree?

In the state of our culture today, what does it look like for Christians to redeem the culture of dysfunctional relationships?


August 2009
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