The older I get, the more important it is: Homecoming.
I remember the first songs.
The light filtered through trees - tall tulip poplars and oaks.
The porch I retreated to every summer to read and stretch my imagination.
The street I walked down for quiet or to get my father's ear so that I could hear his opinions.
The sunroom where my mother and I sat together, or the living room with dim lights at midnight, where I would interrupt her reading to talk about the past and the future.
You know from your own experience that nobody has a perfect childhood. Nobody has a perfect life.
We are tempted to think that other people's lives are perfect.
And when we have children we want them to experience something better than we did . . . something idyllic.
But it won't be.
It won't be perfect for them just like it wasn't perfect for us. We need to accept this. I need to accept this.
I am sitting here as he sleeps, thinking about the way it'll be. What he'll remember. What will be important to him.
Like many teenagers and people in their early twenties, I went through a period of time when I believed that my upbringing must have been less than good. We push away from our parents and the things they offer us. It's a natural thing and many times we're able to reconcile ourselves and come back. That sense of reconciliation is Homecoming for me.
More than the house.
Or the garden.
Or the books.
It's the conversation I had with my mother over the phone when I was in graduate school - the one when I finally admitted to her than I had come to believe that she was, in fact, right. Right about the fact that it wasn't useful to struggle with "what if." Right about the fact that peacefulness was going to have to be a choice that I would make rather than a place I needed to go. Just . . . right.
It's the sight of my dad holding my son, talking to him and humming while Trotter drops off to sleep. And the thought that no matter what differences any of us have ever had, this is the way my sister and I were treated as small children - with care.
Coming home to the idea that even though none of us are perfect, we are living in a way that's honest . . .
And maybe part of that settled sense is also thanksgiving. Being thankful for something doesn't force us to say that it's perfect.
Movies and Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and TV and glimpses of other people's best selves? These things make us think that thankfulness flows from perfection.
Y'all, I like yoga and I have yoga pants, but I don't have my own personal Yogi . . . and I have this yoga mat at my house that has almost never been out of storage . . . and I most certainly don't have an empty room or even corner where I become zen-like at sunrise every morning. HAH!
But I could take a picture that would make you think I had all of that. I could write a "post" that would make you think I did that every day. Sure.
Life is cluttered for most of us.
I love the sight of this old Fannie Farmer cookbook that my mother uses because her mother used it and her mother's mother used it. I use one at home, too. But sometimes I really screw up a recipe. Sometimes what I try to make turns out terribly.
And I love the sight of my mother's garden, but she has reminded me before that she's more a plant collector than a gardener, and her whole garden is a glorious mess of blooming things in no particular order. No particular order - that's what I love so much about it. It's like walking in the woods.
When my son is older I'm sure he'll look at his father and me with skepticism. I'm sure he'll sometimes wish he had other parents or a different life. We'll have disagreements and I'll have to say "No" when he wishes I'd give him a different answer. That's just part of life.
But maybe later, if we are intentional, he will have a bank of memories that pull him back in. And a sense of thanksgiving that grounds him. And we'll be like so many other families - grown up and reconciled.
Hey - reconciliation doesn't mean we've got it all figured out.
It just means we're choosing to hang in there together.
There are things that pull me home like a magnet, and none of them stem from a person's perfection. Or from a perfect house. Or from relationships without disagreements.
One of my composer friends told me that my music reminded him of something old and something new all mixed up.
My familial relationships have all been like that - something old and something new all mixed up. Complicated. Fascinating.
Don't push yourself to think that loved ones and home lives must be infallible. It will never be true.
But DO push yourself to think that good is hiding in the cluttered corners. Yeah, I'm one of those free will people - one of those people with a sense about God not dealing someone a bad hand on purpose. At 28 years old I'm not knowledgeable about very much. But I do feel certain that God works good out of our confusion and even our tragedy.
God is part of the magnet that pulls me back home again and again. Making sense out of the nonsense.
So when I pray about what I want for my son and our home life I usually pray that we'll do "well enough" and that we'll be "honest."
And when I pray about our future I usually pray that we can "see each other with unclouded eyes" and "hear each other with unstopped ears."
Eventually it all comes together.