And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
– T.S. Eliot
In a full circle week, my journey led me back to the place it began. Back to the house I grew up in, to the family from which I came. Time mocks me. Watching a full hour-glass you see the grains of sand glide lazily past, flaunting their abundance. Yet, as these grains pile up on the bottom of the glass, they seem to fall more quickly. Like a commodity, time increases in value as it decreases in quantity.
I walk through the home I grew up in, imprinting it on my memory. It is unlikely I will ever walk through these doors again. The sand in this hour-glass has run out, it is time for others to write their stories within these walls.
I stand at the grave of our family matriarch. With painful sweetness we plant her mortal seed in the dirt. We raise our eyes to heaven, longing to see her growth to immortality; it remains beyond our sight. Instead, our eyes catch on the visible harvest of fruit clustered around her grave.
Invisible cords tie us to people and places only appearing when we see the knife raised, poised to sever. In the place where my journey started, surrounded by my first cloud of witnesses, I feel the pain of the severing.
On this final day of remembering, I see the sand in my hour-glass, individual grains, beautiful and unique. Some will slide through my hour-glass to fill others, and for a moment I want to shout, “Stop! Stop this incessant movement and camp here a while. This is a good place. It is here we should build an altar of remembrance and stay.”
In this full circle exploration, I see the beauty most vividly; feel the pain most deeply. Now, when I must take up the task of building, I don’t want to build so much as to sit back and admire what has already been built.
The struggle to let go is painful. I plead with God. Could He not just come and take us all together? Or at least just let us stay a while longer? Into the battle of my resistance, a young man picks up a guitar and walks alone onto the stage. From his mouth come the words and melody of my heart, “I’ll go where You want me to go, dear Lord, I’ll be who You want me to be.”
Tears streaming down my cheeks, I glance over this harvest of fruit. I see the many who are answering the call. Warriors who fight daily the battle against complacency, loving when it is hard. Voices dedicated to speaking the gospel. Hands that stroke the cheeks of orphans. Homes uprooted from the familiar to spread the good news in other countries. Parents striving to raise Godly children in an increasingly hostile culture. Families who fight disease and oppression from the lap of their Saviour. Songs raised in thanksgiving, through pain.
Trembling with a sense of inadequacy, I bow my head and resolve to build. Not because He needs me to, but because He allows me to. And on this final night, when I see the extravagant gift of my journey most clearly, Immanuel paints His promise across the sky. Bright and bold, the colours of the rainbow arch across the sky. I AM, with you always, proclaims Himself again.