I’ve been thinking a lot about death recently. I’m not quite sure why. Perhaps it’s because of that paradox of sanctification in which God grows us less by medicating us than by exposure therapy. Nothing exposes my inner-atheist like thinking about death and reminding myself of my shocking lack of confidence in the hereafter.
That’s why this prompt for this week struck me so much. Having moved a few times in my life to vastly different places, and with my parents having moved away from the last place in which I lived with them, I still don’t quite know what to call “home”.
Facebook says my “hometown” is Richmond, VA, but I only spent 4 years there over college–the briefest period of time I’ve ever lived anywhere (though they were certainly the most formative). When I meet new people (as I have been at this new job), I often say “well, the first half of my life was in Dallas, the second half was in Virginia, and now I’m here in Philly!”
All that to say, “home” is a pretty ethereal and nebulous concept to me.
This helps me live in the present rather than longing for places that have been, but it sucks when this is applied to relationships. I have maintained no friendships from high school, and only a few from college (several of whom have since moved to Philly, so it’s not difficult), and even those have to chase me down more often than not. I’ve hurt many people deeply with my difficulty in maintaining relationships after I’ve moved away.
And that’s why, when thinking about my “home”, what came to my mind was my death. Not in some morbid “we’re all going to die!”, but rather in the sense that once I die (no matter how small my faith), I would be home with my Father.
And so, I started looking for pictures I’ve taken in cementeries. And I found this one, taken in Glasgow, Scotland in 2006. And then I realized I was wrong.
Even when I die, Death is not my home. Rather, my home, as in that picture, is that City beyond death, that City that death is merely the path towards. It’s this very world renewed and re-known.
This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. And as I meditated last year, the most beautiful thing about Ash Wednesday is that the ashen crosses placed upon our foreheads remind us that our mortality is actually the doorway to life. It is the place that we’re weakest and most helpless–we will all die–and yet it’s the place where God meets us most intimately and profoundly.
This is why the cross is such a big deal, and it’s why Lent has always been one of the most meaningful times in the Christian calendar.
It reminds us of the value of Home, and the way there.
There’s no place like Home.
See my past Weekly Photo Challenges here.
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