Home base

I may have mentioned this previously, but my parents just sold the house last month. Ever since my parents told us they were separating two years ago, I’ve known this day would come, but it’s finally here. My dad has had his own place for about a year now, and my mom and two youngest sibs will be moving into an apartment next week.

I was born in Boston but moved to Bloomfield, NJ at the age of two amidst the strong urging of my parents. Bloomfield is the only home I knew until I went to college. Even after college, living with the guys, and then living with my wife in the greater Philly region, I still occasionally referred to visiting North Jersey as “going home.” Well, “home” is gone.

I don’t like it. I don’t like my parents splitting up, or my siblings being forced to move, or my parents having to get rid of so much stuff to make room in smaller apartments. A married son with no children in his mid-twenties, hoping to move next year for doctoral studies or overseas missions, shouldn’t have to figure out how to fit family heirlooms into his one-bedroom apartment just to keep them in the family. Young adult daughters, like my sister, should be able to circumnavigate the world (Juarez, Oxford, Amsterdam, Philadelphia) knowing that there’s a stable place to come home to.

And there will always be home–somewhere. It may not be on Broad St. in Bloomfield, but home will be with my mom and sibs, with my dad, or with my in-laws. Still, I say with Mr. Robinson, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it.” Prone to wander, in every sense.

My citizenship is in heaven. But as Tom Wright has demonstrated, that doesn’t mean that I’m supposed to live there, but I’m supposed to live as the Emperor’s emissary here:

“The point about citizenship (in Phil. 3) is a point about status and allegiance, not about place of residence….[The citizens’] task was to live in the colony by the rules of the mother city, not to yearn to go home again. What they might need from time to time was not a trip back to Rome, but for the emperor to come from Rome to deliver them from any local difficulties they were having.” (The Resurrection of the Son of God, p. 230)

Marana tha! Come, Lord Jesus.

About Benj

I’m a native North Jerseyan, transplanted to Pennsylvania...lived and taught in Eastern Europe for six years…Old Testament professor, ordained minister, occasional liturgist…husband to Corrie…father to Daniel and Elizabeth.
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8 Responses to Home base

  1. Susan Giffone says:

    I was born into a family of wanderers and determined early that I would put down roots for the children. I did that. Things happen outside your control, however.

    When Dad died and Mom moved to TX, that meant I had no home or hometown but the ones in which I currently lived. TX is not home, CA is not home, PA is not, MA is not. I like the idea of a homestead and have recently talked of making a new one for when I finish my adventures and settle in to become Grandma. But as I get older and “this tent” also begins to show signs of wear, I am reminded that permanence is something that God promises, but we’re not there yet. Maybe that’s why I like the Feast of Booth so much.

    As Mom loses her memory, and I lose my physical strength, I am reminded too that you truly can’t take it with you. The intangibles are the things we take with us when we die. Our wisdom, experiences, relationships with God and others, our good deeds, faith, hope, love can all make it through the portal. Stuff can’t.

    As territorial and beauty-oriented as I am, I have to admit that God’s economy is different than mine, and He is right.

    Thanks for sharing something painful, meaningful, thought-provoking with me.

  2. Thom says:

    I had a similar experience with my parents, not the separation part, but the moving part.
    My dad lost his job during my first semester at PBU and quickly found a new one in Texas. He worked from home for winter and spring and then we all helped pack up our family to move from Maryland to Texas, my brother going for his senior year and me…what was I supposed to do for a summer?
    I could find a job in Maryland but had no place to stay.
    I had a new place to stay in Texas but didn’t have any connections for a job.
    So I ended up staying at PBU all year round, living in Penndel for two straight years.
    It was brutally hard, learning how to cook good meals for myself, being far too alone during the summer, and getting adjusted to real life in Penndel and not college life in Penndel. It was bizarre, and I became severely depressed. I felt like I had no home.
    As the years have gone by I have started calling North Jersey home more often, but I still call Maryland home as well. But not Pennsylvania. I never felt like I was home there, I was just biding my time before I could get out of there. It was a restless feeling, a yearning for the home of the past and the new home of the future.
    I am very glad that is over.

  3. thinkhardthinkwell says:

    I appreciate your thoughts.

    I’m a little freaked out by the auto-generated link from WordPress based on key words in my post: “Mackenzie’s Sis — Dad Never Made a Move on Me.”

  4. Blake says:

    well put benj. I think Paul certainly had a longing for home (Phil 1) – and I’m sure you know that, but this is a refreshing perspective. It forces me out of my “escapist” mentally, pushing me to seek God’s restoration of the here and now. Thanks.

  5. Uncle Frank Giffone says:

    Nephew, you’re ALWAYS WELCOME IN OUR HOME NO MATTER WHERE THAT MIGHT BE. 1669 Broad Street was a home to me as well not just during the five years my brother & sister-in-law, your father & mother, graciously allowed me to share their roof but because my boyhood home, 963 East 105th Street in Brooklyn, New York, held for me the same feelings you’ve described. Ralph & Susan hosted so many birthday parties and holiday events for our family that 1669 was “home base”. I miss 1669 Broad Street but it’s memories are alive and well in Benjamin, whom I introduced to the sport of ice hockey, Rebekah, an American Girl at heart, Deborah, who got me reacquainted with Babar, & Michael who could built ANYTHING out of Lego’s, each time I see their smiling faces!

  6. Pingback: Best of 2008 and 2009 | think hard, think well

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