Month: May 2024

If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home

There was a certain summertime magic that was a part of family life while growing up in Rome, Georgia.  Every once in a while, my dad would receive some tickets to an Atlanta Braves baseball game from a benevolent old guy known as “Doc” Elliott who ran some sort of import business in Rome.  Dad would come home early from work.  We would load up the old brown station wagon and begin our trek to Atlanta Fulton Co. Stadium.  The journey to the big city was always filled with excitement and great anticipation.  And of course, the trip always included a stop at the old downtown Varsity restaurant just across from Georgia Tech.  After a couple of dogs and a Frosted Orange, we would head to the stadium and find the way to our seats.

The stadium was always alive with sights and sounds.  When the time was just right, Chief nock-a-homa, would run out to the mound, do his war dance, and then dash off to his tepee in left field.  (Those were different days.)  The players ran onto the field, the anthem played and the crowd cheered.  Long before the rhythmic sounds of the “tomahawk chop,” it was the stadium organist who stirred the crowd into a frenzy.  I remember buying popcorn that came in megaphone-shaped cardboard containers that could be used to cheer on the team after the popcorn was long gone.  And in those early days, there were superstars to cheer on.  Names like Aaron, Torre, Niekro, and Jackson were sprinkled throughout the line-up.  Every kid in the place would sit on the edge of his/her seat when #44 came to the plate.  We all expected “Hammering Hank” to hit a homerun every time, and rarely were we disappointed.

We typically stayed till the bitter end and made the slow trek back to the car.  Traffic was always a problem as we headed back north on I-75 toward Rome.  In those days, part of our journey included driving through Marietta where the big Kentucky Fried Chicken stood on the corner.  By that point in the evening, my brother and I were groggy in the backseat and ready to be home, but we both knew there was still a long drive to endure.  There was a new residential development along the road, apartments as I remember, that had a big sign planted near the entrance.  It read, “If you lived here, you’d be home.”  It always made me a little mad to see it, because I wished I did live there, so I could be home and not have to endure the long road to Rome.  It’s funny, but that sign still comes to mind when I think on those days.

“If you lived here, you’d be home.”  It’s odd how most of us spend our days in the anticipation of things yet to come.  When we are young, we dream of becoming a teenager, driving a car, and going on dates.  And then we long for the days of college and becoming independent for the first time.  And after college we yearn for that first job, or marriage, or a new city.  And even then, we are unsettled in the present and long for that which is still to come.  We dream of buying our first home or paying off a car.  We raise our kids and live vicariously through their lives.  We look to our emerging careers which all too soon becomes a glance at retirement.  We anticipate grandkids, and working in the yard, and taking lavish vacations.  It’s like our lives are a dream that we continually chase, never really thinking we have finally arrived at home.

Maybe home is all around us in every season of life.  We just lack the vision to see it.  Gospel writer Luke tells this story in chapter 10 of the Gospel of Luke, As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’  ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things,  but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’”

Martha missed the moment in time, or maybe the full reality of “being at home,” because of distraction and worry over her preparations.  She couldn’t experience the joy of being present in the moment because of looking ahead to an event that would unfold in a few hours.

In the Christian experience, we are definitively a “forward looking” people.  It’s written into our hymns, our prayers, Bible studies, and sermons.  We talk of that future Kingdom of Heaven.  We talk of that “day of rejoicing that will be.”  We talk of a better life that is to come.  There’s nothing wrong with glancing through the eyes of faith to that promised day.  We all long for heaven and when we will “bid farewell to every tear and wipe our weeping eyes.”  But let us not fail to find ourselves at home each day, living in the present moments of grace that include: messy lives, unpaid bills, overgrown lawns, empty gas tanks, dishes in the sink, and toys on the floor.  Home is the place we find security in the chaos, joy in the difficulties, and contentment in the midst of need.  If we learn to live in the “present place” of hope, contentment, and joy, we would, most assuredly, be at home.  I wonder if those to be pitied the most, are not simply those who may miss the joy of eternal life, but those who fail to see eternity in the moments of each day.  If you lived here, you’d be home.

Jon R Roebuck