Go with me (Lord), to keep me from getting lost,
or being too reluctantly ashamed to take the first demanding steps
that will be the beginning now of that lifetime journey
to the self I so passionately long to be,
to those I love and lost awhile,
and to those in the shimmering web of this human family I'm in for good,
and so to you, who, I'm praying,
waits to welcome and go limping home with me.
In Alice McDermott’s novel, Charming Billy, two older vets of World War II sit smoking in the dark on the porch of an inherited, rundown little house on the shore of Long Island. For the first time ever, they'd spent the day walking by the sea and in a nearby village. They are awed by the experience. One of them says , “... It makes you wonder what else you don't know yet?"
Billy's thought, there in the darkness by the sea, reflects a sense of awe that's at least vaguely familiar to us for it touches on the deepest longing of our human hearts. Surely all of us have known some moment, perhaps many moments, of apprehending, of seeing, smelling, sensing something we cannot get enough of and yet can never again live without.
How have such moments affected you? Or have they, do they? Maybe not much because for most of us the trouble is we too quickly turn away from them, dismiss them as just a bit of sentimentality and quickly get back to the rush and clatter of business as usual. We don’t trust such moments for what they are — a key turning the lock on the vault of our heart of hearts, opening them to the deep longing we keep stored away there. And yet, by God’s grace and patience, those moments keep happening when we sense something we cannot get enough of and can never live without, the great pull of the mystery of all we do not know yet, or ever know completely. It's the pull of awe. Whatever spirituality and religion involve, awe is at their source and awe is what those pregnant moments bear.
So I suggest that, as we take the first steps through the door of the New Year, we gather up those moments and attend to some of them and the longing they open in us. If we do, we might begin to realize that they point to what the image of home means to us most deeply. They might also remind us that home is not so much where we leave from, as it is more where we are always leaving for because our longing is for the home which embodies belonging, being accepted, held accountable, forgiven, strengthened, loved, and no human home quite brings that off but only hints toward.