Sunday, April 27, 2014

On Feeling Home

Home is a powerful concept. My friends write about it, my favorite bands sing ballads about it (or about love, which is the same thing), and authors much more compelling than I will ever be have said all there is to say on the subject. I cannot hope to contribute anything new, only to recount something of the last time I felt home.

It was a trip to the beach. My first time on the West Coast, really my first time on an actual beach, but not a big deal, just a change in visuals, maybe a slightly altered perspective. I had brought books, great ones, and I was looking mildly forward to an afternoon of postmodernism on the beach. I even had in mind the inevitable Facebook photo op for my books, Eco and Borges superimposed, dominant against a backdrop of sand and surf.

My vocabulary is adequate to express most of the things I need to say in my life, but I am at a complete loss to describe the unimaginable, existent feeling that took hold of me when I finally arrived, when I (somewhat begrudgingly) removed my shoes and socks and put my bare feet in the sand for the first time. The power, the energy, the realness of it was simply overwhelming.

There is something heavily symbolic, even in the moment, in the activity of casting aside all the best ironies and deconstructions postmodernity has to offer in favor of the warm, visceral, authentic, REAL experience of the beach. In the face (the Face) of what my senses were experiencing, I was simply overcome with the desire to drink it in, to feel more sand and water, smell and taste the fresh, salty air, hear the rippling water and the gulls, and see the movements of the waves against the purest pearlescent sky.

This was home. This was fullness. To use a nice bit of Christianese, it was shalom. It was a moment when the world was right, when the realities of existence were demonstrated to me as manifestly good, an echo of our teleology, our end.

And that is the point. That is what I need, what I desperately crave but only find at a few sacred moments. I want home. I need home, not just a place but a state of existence where things aren't broken anymore, where relationships between people are good and loving and where the sky is blue and the water is warm, and we can experience beauty without emptiness, love without selfishness, and quietude without loneliness. That is what I crave, and that is what I tasted on that beach and only on a precious few other occasions.

So when I am depressed, it is not because I fail to adequately be aware of the joy and goodness of God. It is because I am waiting, yearning, desperately desiring something that has not arrived yet in full. That joy does exist in my life; in fact, it consumes my life completely, because it is too much for the realities of the present to support. I refuse to experience a simulacrum of that joy, a kitschy, shallow happiness that fails to refer to the sense of home that I crave so much. Home is not cheap. It is rare and unexpected, and it is the only thing I ever want. And I believe with all my heart and soul that one day I will always feel home.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: “Look! The residence of God is among human beings. He will live among them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not exist any more—or mourning, or crying, or pain, for the former things have ceased to exist.” And the one seated on the throne said: “Look! I am making all things new!”
-Revelation 21:3-5a

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


How can I capture the texture of this rock?
I can say that it is grey
that it is rough
that it is big
but not too big
exact dimensions unknown, roughly 14"x12"x5"
that it is sitting at a jaunty angle
pointed up into the wispy sky
that it is part wet, part dry
dipped in this deep black lake
like baptism
or is that not concrete enough for you?