This morning, I put on a vest to ward off the slight chill in the air, laced up my shoes, and walked out the front door of the home where I grew up to wander aimlessly in the fall sunshine with my oldest boy. (This oldest boy is too tall and gangly for me to be comfortable with his tallness and ganglyness, but he still holds my hand, so I will begrudgingly accept this.)
I found myself heading down the driveway toward the road, and it was almost like my feet turned me left when we reached the end. We got to the neighbor's driveway, and I lifted him up so we could read the historic marker there, my family name hammered into the metal in several places. We headed up their driveway, and I took in this perspective that I haven't seen in years. I remembered the little gate that separates our horse pasture from their yard, probably grown rusty with disuse at this point.
He didn't recognize me when he opened the door, this neighbor who watched me grow up. And time had changed him, too. He lives as a 40-something in my memory, though he is now closer to 70. I told my brown haired boy about how they opened the old home place to our family again when I married his father.
As we walked back, he asked me to explain the expression "deep roots." I pointed out one of the many tall, strong, living examples of this that line the driveway...
"When you grow up somewhere your whole life, you are like a tall, mature oak tree. The longer it grows in one place, the deeper and stronger its roots get. I grew up here, and so I know the people and places here well and have a lot of memories here. Daddy grew up in many places and got to know lots of different people and have a lot of different experiences than I did, but there is something special about growing up in one place and having deep roots, too."
We were silent again, our feet crunching in the dead leaves, and I saw those tree roots in my mind's eye, twisted and deep and strong, reaching down far into the rich Carolina clay. I thought about the struggle it took to wrench myself from this place when I got married and became a nomad for several years. There's a reason why it was hard. There's a reason why I wake up from dreams that this place has been sold with tears in my eyes.
My sons are growing up in a city, not a small town. I wonder if they will yearn for their childhood home in the same way that I do. I'm sure it'll look different, but I don't know how yet. However it looks, I want them to have people and places to return to with joy that speak to them of unconditional love and family and knowing and being known.
I think this is a beautiful glimpse of eternal home that He sometimes gives us so we will trust that it exists more fully with Him in heaven. When I enter heaven, I suspect that I will look at Him and say, "This feeling is familiar. Thank you for the bit of it that I got on earth to remind me of you who created it."