Kurunegala Sri Lanka

One year ago I took a trip to Sri Lanka with World Vision on a mission to find sponsorship for children in desperate poverty. But while I expected to learn about the challenges and triumphs of programs in a foreign country, what I didn’t expect were the things that I learned about myself in the process. I went there as a stranger to a strange land but I returned as no less of a stranger to the place that I now call “home.”

You see, I grew up in a place not that unlike Sri Lanka, a beautiful tropical place full of people who live simple lives with few possessions. These are people who work hard and laugh hard and love big. In Sri Lanka I was again reminded of the lessons I had somehow forgotten of the value of community and the pure joys of sharing meals and stories with others. Being there awakened an old homesickness for an island paradise that I haven’t seen in over a decade and uncovered an unhealed grief for the loss of the friends and neighbors that were my world.

But when I returned and began to process all these things, I realized something else: this sense of loss is also shared by so many people that I know. This disquiet and grief also follow the souls of many people who have left the tribe of their church, their school, or their family in search of spiritual freedom. We who have left our homes and kinfolk sometimes have to grieve them. So many friends are now are wandering from place to place like spiritual and cultural nomads, trying to find a place that they can call home and a family that will put its arms around them and tell them that they are safe and loved — if such a thing can even dare to be imagined. So few seem to be finding it.

I don’t know if I’ll ever make it back to my island and movement of time can be so unkind to those of us who treasure our past. As places and people have changed “home” has now perhaps become just another word for an empty place in my heart. But through that pain I seem to also hear a voice calling gently, reminding me of a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Perhaps there will be home at last some other day.

53 thoughts on “Home”

  1. Don’t think I will ever find my island either. No more hugs and certainly no “welcome home” and like you said, I can’t seem to fit anywhere else. Makes me wonder how many people are still in fundyland who yearn for spiritual freedom but stay because of community.

  2. God, family, church. In that order. So sad when folks put their “church family” above their own families, and even before a real relationship with God. Feelin’ your pain and sending some love back at ya

  3. Well put, Darrell. There is a lot to the phrase “you can never go back”. Our experiences should change us and help us to grow upward and outward (or onward). I think that many of us are afraid to change. Some of that may be human nature. Some fear change because it is different and there is a fear of the unknown.
    Some who are still in the grasp of Fundyism have been taught to fear change. I have been blessed to be able to travel and see new sights and peoples. I hope that will continue, and that I will continue to change. Hopefully for the better both humanly and spiritually.

    (No mistakes should be blamed on George. I know better than to attempt to type and edit on my phone during lunch break)

    1. Mmm, mmm, mmm, the Saviour is more than happy to see you, Ms. Cassidy. 😎 Now THERE’s some real gospel singin’!

    2. Until you posted this, Don, I had no idea who Eva Cassidy was.

      I did a little poking around on YouTube and discovered how amazing she was. Every song I heard her sing gave me chills. Every song.

      Thanks for sharing this with us!

  4. Well said sir. I have been thinking a lot about this lately. I have been remembering the good in Fundystan, the things that made leaving hard.
    While I have no desire to return, I sometimes do experience a certain nostalgia for it.
    It comforts my heart to know that I will experience that feeling of belonging and family again. If not in this life then certainly in the next.

  5. Yes, we all yearn to go back Home. But I’ve got news for you: we go back to that place and it is simply not the same. The landmarks are there, some of them, but the people have changed. The friends you knew when you were a kid turn into people you barely recognize. your friends have the bad habit of marrying people you can’t stand. (Probably the feeling is mutual.)

    This is especially true if we go back just for a vacation. People have their own lives, their own interests, their own agendas.

    HOME turns out to be not a place, but a group of people, set in time.

    1. As Thomas Wolfe put it so well, You Can’t Go Home Again, and it is a very thoughtful read. πŸ™‚ πŸ˜‰

  6. Unlike others there were very few things I missed about fundamentalism but I do relate to the feeling of aimlessness and not belonging anywhere. There was no place to go where I felt like I was among friends. I did not belong anywhere.

    I am one of the few who found it. A spiritual home. I pray that those of you who are out there still searching will never give up hope of finding it.

    1. In a way I didn’t belong in Fundystan. I wasn’t one of the ‘beautiful people’. I wasn’t thin, pretty, musically talented, socially gifted, or the Baptist Battery Bunny (I just had to alliterate there!). I was chunky, average looking, socially awkward, and never knew the right thing to do. Even so, I still feel ties to some of the people and hope like crazy that more get out. Do I belong in my current church? Yeah, I guess so, but at this point I don’t really care.

      1. I grew up in small IFB churches, small enough that there were cliques of “the favored ones” and “the lesser-thans.” I often wished our church were bigger (mostly because our youth group usually consisted of myself and my younger siblings and when I went to weekend retreats at the local GARBC camp, I went by myself), but I can see that there are definite draw-backs to larger churches, one of which is making some people feel like they’re not as desirable as others. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

  7. For much of my life, I’ve wanted to go back to . . . where? Wherever I went, I discovered that it wasn’t quite right, and it never could meet my longings. When I started reading C. S. Lewis, I was amazed to find that he described that restless longing and described it as our soul’s desire for God, for the eternal.

    The Bible uses terms that I believe indicate that our longings will be met in heaven – it describes us as being “one”, it speaks of rest and of our being known, it describes us as a family. I believe heaven will meet our yearning to belong.

    But it would be nice to find a place here on earth where we feel loved and accepted too.

  8. Weeping here. Yes, it is the sense of certain belonging I miss the most. I may have been rebuked publicly, punished harshly, and treated as “less than” because I am female, but I was still seemingly inextricably joined with my tribe. There was love there, if imperfect and warped, where the glimmers of God’s goodness and grace would break through.

  9. Just before I read this post, I was listening to K-Love and Matthew West’s “Only Grace” was playing. It made me sad because it was what we wanted our church to be, but, human nature being what it is, our replant has been very difficult.

    But this is what we long for, and while it is true spiritually, it would be nice to experience some of this in the here and now:

    “There is no guilt here;
    There is no shame.
    No pointing fingers,
    There is no blame.
    What happened yesterday has disappeared;
    The dirt has washed away
    And now it’s clear!

    There’s only grace!
    There’s only love!
    There’s only mercy and believe me it’s enough!
    Your sins are gone
    Without a trace;
    And there’s nothing left now;
    There’s only grace…

    And if you should fall again
    Get back up, get back up!
    Reach out and take my hand.”

  10. I had some good times in Fundystan (at least the outskirts), things I still miss. πŸ˜•
    I’ll add my thoughts to all the other good ones. The longing for Home is always there, and it isn’t so much a place, or even a time, but a restlessness. This place I’ve lived for 20 years isn’t really my home anymore, I know I’m still looking for my island.

  11. Part of the reason we can’t go home is because when one leaves, their memories of those people and times are locked in and saved in a static memory. Yet life is in flux.
    It’s like going back to your high school reunion 30 years later. The people are there, the faces are familiar but they are not the people in our memories. When we look at that person we see them through a 30 year old lens. In our minds eye they are the 17 year old crazy teenager we knew, or the beauty that we worshiped from afar or that special one who was our first love and will always hold a special place in our hearts. The crazy teen is now the CEO of his/her own company, the teen beauty we worshiped is a mom or dad on their third marriage and struggling with some serious personal issues and the high school sweetheart is over weight and has five grown kids. But our memories of them have them forever locked in time and space. But time has a way of chipping away most of the negative aspects leaving us with a nostalgia that that we find comfortable and when we think on it we reminisce fondly and even long to return there… sadly, time will not allow that. We have changed as well. While the memory is forever locked in our minds as a particular time and place, we have journeyed well past that point ourselves.

    Truly, we are pilgrims traveling through this world of woe unable to return to what was but ever heading to the Celestial City that lies before us. In Pilgrim’s Progress we have this account of the beginning of his journey:

    So I saw in my dream that the man began to run. Now he had not run far from his own door when his wife and children, perceiving it, began to cry after him to return; but the man put his fingers in his ears, and ran on crying, Life! life! eternal life! Luke 14:26. So he looked not behind him, Gen. 19:17, but fled towards the middle of the plain.

    The neighbors also came out to see him run, Jer. 20:10; and as he ran, some mocked, others threatened, and some cried after him to return; and among those that did so, there were two that were resolved to fetch him back by force. The name of the one was Obstinate and the name of the other Pliable. Now by this time the man was got a good distance from them; but, however, they were resolved to pursue him, which they did, and in a little time they overtook him. Then said the man, β€œNeighbors, wherefore are you come?” They said, β€œTo persuade you to go back with us.” But he said, β€œThat can by no means be: you dwell,” said he, β€œin the city of Destruction, the place also where I was born: I see it to be so; and dying there, sooner or later, you will sink lower than the grave, into a place that burns with fire and brimstone: be content, good neighbors, and go along with me.”

    Obstinate: What, said Obstinate, and leave our friends and our comforts behind us!

    Christian: Yes, said Christian, (for that was his name,) because that all which you forsake is not worthy to be compared with a little of that I am seeking to enjoy, 2 Cor. 4:18; and if you will go along with me, and hold it, you shall fare as I myself; for there, where I go, is enough and to spare. Luke 15:17. Come away, and prove my words.

    Obstinate: What are the things you seek, since you leave all the world to find them?

    Christian: I seek an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, 1 Peter 1:4; and it is laid up in heaven, and safe there, Heb. 11:16, to be bestowed, at the time appointed, on them that diligently seek it. Read it so, if you will, in my book.

    Obstinate: Tush, said Obstinate, away with your book; will you go back with us or no?

    Christian: No, not I, said the other, because I have laid my hand to the plough. Luke 9:62.

    Obstinate: Come then, neighbor Pliable, let us turn again, and go home without him: there is a company of these crazy-headed coxcombs, that when they take a fancy by the end, are wiser in their own eyes than seven men that can render a reason.

    Pliable: Then said Pliable, Don’t revile; if what the good Christian says is true, the things he looks after are better than ours: my heart inclines to go with my neighbor.

    Obstinate: What, more fools still! Be ruled by me, and go back; who knows whither such a brain-sick fellow will lead you? Go back, go back, and be wise.

    Christian: Nay, but do thou come with thy neighbor Pliable; there are such things to be had which I spoke of, and many more glories besides. If you believe not me, read here in this book, and for the truth of what is expressed therein, behold, all is confirmed by the blood of Him that made it. Heb. 9: 17-21.

    Pliable: Well, neighbor Obstinate, said Pliable, I begin to come to a point; I intend to go along with this good man, and to cast in my lot with him: but, my good companion, do you know the way to this desired place?

    Christian: I am directed by a man whose name is Evangelist, to speed me to a little gate that is before us, where we shall receive instructions about the way.

    Enough of my waxing philosophical. I know in my own heart there have been times when there was a desire to return to the leeks of Egypt where I was told what to do and merely had to perform in order to be approved and accepted. Not having to think and figure out for myself what is right, what is pure, what is lovely, what is of good repute, what is excellent and worthy of praise… but rather having some one tell me these things so I can mark them off on my checklist so I appear righteous and holy. *I’m lazy like that you know.

    Dismounts soap box, stumbles and face plants… gets up, looks around hoping no one saw that.

  12. “Jesus suffered and died outside the city gates to make his people holy by means of his own blood. So let us go out to him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace he bore. For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.” (Hebrews 13:12-14)

    The KJV is beautiful – “For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come” – but “city” doesn’t hit home as hard as “home.”

    1. I sure hope today is better than yesterday for you. You seemed full of yourself on Tuesday. Oops I forgot, supporters of this so-called blog seem to all be full of themselves. πŸ˜†

      1. You really should getting in the habit of asking yourself “am I comfortable with being this big if a douche” before hitting the submit button. You probably are thrilled with being so, but you should at least be aware that you are in fact being a giant douche.

  13. Well said Darrell! I relate very well to that “homesickness” that you mentioned. It’s so hard starting all over again once you leave Fundyland.

    1. Methinks Bro Ray is trying to increase his views by linking over here so we will all run over there to see his nuts.

    2. Bro Ray, you may have just made Darell’s day! πŸ˜€
      Just be forewarned, some of your viewers are going to check this site out, and a few of them are going to get thoughtful… πŸ˜‰

      1. Okay, I just had to check it out.

        Mr.Smiley-Face Bro. Ray is one of the many militant, fundy-hatemongers that call themselves Christians, but look anything Christ-like.

        At the time of this reply, he only got 1 comment encouraging his squirrel hunt. He takes himself too seriously, like most Fundies. He’s an embarrassment to Christianity. πŸ˜₯

        1. That “encouraging” reply was from me, and was making fun of his squirrel post, not agreeing with it. I tried to be over the top, but Ray outdoes me every time and satirizes himself better than I ever could.

  14. Like a bird that wanders from her nest, So is a man who wanders from his home. (Prov 27:8, NAS)

    Darrell, I too strayed from my nest many years ago, leaving both fundamentalism and my geographic home. When I have those longings to return (to the place, not to fundamentalism) I recall that “You Can’t Go Home Again” (Thomas Wolfe).

  15. This embodies the feelings I have so often lately. When we left our former church the freedom was exhilarating, but now I feel the twinge of homesickness. Longing to have a place were I know my role and what is required of me. When I remember the agony I would feel during messages filled with opinion backed up with a couple verses, I realize it is better to be wandering free than to be secure in chains.

  16. Remember that we are strangers and pilgrims here. The loneliness of being out of my comfort zone and thrust into a world that is less certain that it was when I was a child who didn’t know any better but to believe that the world was flat is offset by the fact that my relationship with God has grown, it is now something I pursue because I desire it rather than it being from compulsion or out of a desire to be seen by others whose expectations I know. In many ways, the fear, uncertainty and weakness I feel has actually made perfect the strength of God, because that is what I have left.

    Not all who wander are lost…

  17. Dear Darrell:

    Thank you for this. I was thinking of your trip recently [their recent election], and your reference to Abraham’s ‘home’ is so fitting.

    Christian Socialist

  18. Thank you, Darrell. I left fundyland many years ago and to this day, I struggle with Sunday’s. That day seems to be the longest of the week. I am very happy in my church, but still, on some level, miss my old friends and connections. Those memories, good and bad, are never very far away.

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