Our Home

At the baseball park run by our Lion’s Club, my wife Vicki painted on the wall of the concession stand the saying, “In baseball, as in life, all the important things happen at home.” This is such a perfect phrase for a Little League ballfield filled with kids from 5 to 18. Home plate is rugged, fixed into the earth, trod upon, but precious. It can be perceived as an altar; it is protected and defended; it is even swept clean. Home plate, which even resembles a home, defines a fundamental part of the game.

Coach John Scolinos, who died in 2009 at the age of 91, touched the lives of hundreds of baseball players and coaches with his “Don’t widen the plate” speech that focuses on the fact that home plate is a standard that does not change; it stays at seventeen inches all through life.

“What happens in your house is more important than what happens in the White House.”- Barbara Bush

In his book, Baseball and Philosophy, Eric Bronson discusses that in baseball the intent is to get home. Yet, every batter starts off at home.  ‘Home’ in baseball does not count until we have left it, then returned. Home does not become meaningful until we have taken the journey and experienced the risk that lies in front of us. We cannot score until after we have confronted the pitcher and those fielders who are trying to stop us.

On the wall of my parent’s house is a framed quote, “If you love something set it free. If it comes back it’s yours. If not, it was never meant to be.” My parents took that expression to heart in how they structured our home. It needed to be a place where their sons wanted to return once we were able to go out on our own.

TS Eliot has the quote, “We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring, will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time” describes a lifelong journey of exploration of our world and ourselves. Not so much about the mysteries of the universe or to reach some destination, but to see our starting point, possibly home, for the first time through new eyes and new understanding.

Each fall, I have typically been involved in a Homecoming event, either at my college alma mater, my own high school, or where my daughters attended and I coached football. Homecoming is a tradition of welcoming back former students or members and celebrating an organization’s existence. What is rarely pointed out is that we can’t have a Homecoming without a ‘Home-leaving.’ The longer and farther away we have been, the richer the homecoming – especially around family events like Thanksgiving. In the Canadian provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, they periodically have a “Come Home Year” as a civic event to encourage a return to one’s hometown. Many have left the small rural towns, called ‘economic migration,’ and these events reunite generations in a celebration.

“Home sweet home” is an expression of pleasure upon returning to our home, especially after an extended period away from it. The expression is the title of a song from the opera Maid of Milan which was first performed in 1823. The song was reputedly banned from being played in Union Army camps during the Civil War for being too strongly reminiscent of home and likely to provoke desertion.

Anderson East is a singer songwriter I recently discovered. My favorite song is, “House is a Building,” with the line “If a house is a building, home is feeling.” He adds in one of the verses:

“Hickory floors, swing on a porch; Don’t mean a damn thing; Sheets on a bed, ain’t nothing but thread; If they’re always empty”

My freshmen year in college, I dealt with a case of home sickness by writing poems. One poem I wrote in 1979/80 is titled Home.

Home, where is it?

Someplace to live

or to just visit

Home, what is it?

A building of matter

or just a spirit

Home, you have to see

Isn’t a building or place

It is whatever you wish to be

Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder said, “Home is where the heart is.” Our home will always be the place for which we feel the deepest affection, no matter where we are. There is also a Tibetan saying, “Wherever you have friends that’s your country and wherever you receive love, that’s your home.”

The best homecoming story is Luke’s (15:11-32) parable of the Prodigal Son. It is the subject of recovering the lost. Our own misuse of free will requires a return to God and his forgiveness. Like every homecoming we are welcomed back joyously.

Heaven is a real place. Listen to the words of Jesus on the night before he was crucified (John 14:2-3), “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.” Twice Jesus calls heaven a place. “My Father’s house” is as real as the place we call home. It’s a real place filled with real people.

We have been set free because we are loved. The purpose is that we come back and see our starting point through new eyes and new understanding. Home is where we receive love and will reunite generations in a celebration. The dwelling with Jesus in His Father’s House will be the most beautiful home of all.


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