At my very core, I am an adventure seeker. I don’t necessarily mean this in the sense that I enjoy action-packed theme park rides or death-defying undertakings. In fact, I’m probably not your go-to person for stomach-turning, terror-evoking exploits. But I do believe in exploring the unknown. Perhaps this is because, as a Christian, I’ve endeavored to embrace Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:19. There, Jesus adjures the remaining eleven disciples to “go” and “make disciples of all nations.” In considering this instruction and the individuals who have followed it, I have come to a certain understanding regarding the Christian life. As a Christ follower, it seems that life sometimes includes taking risks, exploring uncharted avenues, and traveling to far-off places. And even though I seek out and mostly enjoy all of these things, I occasionally have a longing (and even a need) to revisit familiar places and familiar people, and the things that have fundamentally shaped me as a human being made by God. In these moments, I set aside my novel pursuits, sometimes for an hour and sometimes for several days, and I return home.
Returning home can take many forms. Sometimes it means making a trip back to my ancestral residence. I don’t know exactly why, but there is something about devouring mom’s homemade potato salad, taking a stroll through dad’s butterfly garden, or challenging my siblings to a late-night game of Scrabble that nourishes the soul. Perhaps with my family gathered around the kitchen table, I am reminded of the various gifts of love given to me throughout the years, and I see a bit more of God’s face. At other times, returning home means reconnecting with God through my church family and community. In this setting, I call to remembrance the words and deeds that define my faith and I am reminded of the long legacy of Christ followers of which I am a part. Here, I find the seeds of my faith nourished as I continue to grow into the participatory community member that I am intended to be. Returning home might also be more solitary. Sometimes, through personal prayer and devotion, the scars from my briar-laden, wayward paths are mended and I am drawn back to the narrow road, which leads me to my Maker and to a clearer understanding of the truly moral life. These personal moments of communion with God also reveal the great specificity and intentionality that God grants in my individual pursuits. Regardless of the contour, returning home always renews my spirit and gives me the grace I need in order to return again to the uniquely fashioned adventures which lie before me.
In naming the various forms by which I return home to God, I am reminded of the way that these sometimes converge in order create what I call “a season of homecoming.” That is, sometimes God extends my personal and communal moments of renewal across weeks or even months. In these seasons, I am able to find deeper healing from wounds which sometimes accompany a spirit of risk and innovation. Also, in these times, I can prepare more thoroughly for my next novel undertaking before I pack my bags and head out the door. Perhaps like winter, spring, summer and fall, I learn to recognize this spiritual season of homecoming as I walk more closely with God and neighbor. And that is immensely helpful, for in the Christian life, it is just as important to recognize when to go back as it is to know when to move forward. To be sure, each has it’s place, each serves its purpose, and each is the path to God.