We are home again after a lot of traveling over the past few months. We are home.
Our last trip was the completion of the memory trips for me. At least I think so - I still could go to a few other places I have lived - like Cranford and Madison New Jersey, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Birmingham Michigan, Pittsburgh Pa (don't remember I was 2!) and Salt Lake City - (don't remember I was 3!) Which of course says - that i have lived in a lot of places during my 61 years of life.
And somehow I wonder if all of this has been ruminating on identity and where is home? When people ask me where I am from, I often don't make much of a response. I lived a lot in West Chester Pennsylvania - but graduated from high school in Michigan. My parents retired to the outer banks of NC where they are buried. After 30 years in ohio, maybe I am now from Ohio.
I spent Saturday night in Scranton Pennsylvania where Chris Connor and I lived from 1972-74. It was for us a place of firsts - our first time away from parents, his first REAL CAREER job, and the time when we became parents as Kacey was born in Scranton (is that why she loves "The Office?") I worshipped in the church where she was born - Covenant Presbyterian Church. It was also the first place where I volunteered to work with youth. It seems to be usual for me in these trips - my memory is not real good. I did not remember a whole lot - except that this was such an important time in our lives. Scranton is not the most attractive city in PA - but for us it was very special.
Then I spent three days in a beautiful Bed and Breakfast in West Chester PA - The Faunbrook Inn. It was 200 years old and decorated exquisitly and a very special place. Wayne and Gail and Geoff and Vicki joined us in a time of remembering our childhood together. Our parents lived there three times and we journeyed to each house. The first one we were lucky enough to get to go inside and remember much about our life there. We also went to the church where I was so active as a youth and went by the old High School. It was all good.
What these trips have meant for me has been to give me a real sense of gratitude and grace. The gratitude was that I was part of the Gersen family and had parents that really sought to give us the best life they could. In one house it took us a while to determine which were the boys bedrooms and which were the girls. Finally, we realized that our parents had taken the smallest room - which was a pretty good symbol of their understanding of parenting. They taught us a lot about life and love and family and now as I am able to be with my brothers at this juncture - I am grateful for all of it. (but always wishing my sister was here!)
The grace comes when I remember some of the challenging times I had growing up - particularly my junior high years when I felt like an alien in school and with friends. The grace is the healing that happened over the years and the lessons - the compassion - that I learned BECAUSE I was the outsider. There is still much to ponder.
As we left West Chester Gail gave me a gift that was so appropriate. She and Wayne came to us from a Buddhist retreat and the gift she gave was a "beggging bowl" that she had bought there. This is what it says on the outside: "I am home" and "I have arrived."
And so, home has been many, many places for me. But now today I sit at 1812 white pine court and know that I am home. I have arrived.
I am here.
God is here
We are here together.