Looking For Home

The vast Aspen Mountain vistas have turned yellow and fallen rapidly within a few unexpected freezes, made more so by the first snows in the past several weeks. The snow is usually evaporated or melted within four or five days, followed by the whisper of autumn. It is inescapable. The “Bosque,” literally the forest of cottonwood trees along our rivers and tributaries of northern New Mexico, reveal riverbeds long dry from drought by their telltale bright yellowing of the leaves. The “golden rivers”, as we often refer to them, are visible a whole month earlier than last year, holding the promise of a potentially cold and maybe even wet winter, which would be godsend to all of us in the dry places of the west. Thornton Wilder’s cry from our town, seems appropriate to this time of the year:

“Oh earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings realize life while they live it?”

It is evident that all of life ultimately returns to autumn. Colorful and striking for both her subtleties and intensity of color in the alpine sections of our high desert, we are reminded one more time that another cycle in our never-ending journeys around the sun is coming to an end. Nature seems to push herself to unabashed splendor right up until the freeze, when all turns lifeless tan, brown or black with decay and death, thus allowing new life space and resource to reaffirm its presence in spring. In that place of decay and loss though, one begins to realize that the sedentary promises of late autumn and winter are before us. Perhaps it is in spite of our wanderlust, we really do like to be at home and in a place of our own.

As the earth cools down becoming somewhat inert in winter, there appears to compel us to move from outdoors to indoors to mitigate the cold. My granddaughters entertain me on Facetime with their antics of crawling under the dining room table to establish place and territory or in building blanket-forts to have a secret sheltering place in which to find themselves. It would appear that finding secure places in which to cogitate, regain strength and prepare for the next thing is what humans are about in all seasons. But it is in winter that we can locate ourselves and “hunker down” for the duration of the season. Thanksgiving and Christmas are the notable exceptions when comes to taking us out of ourselves or a moment, but at their heart, they, too, are celebrations of home, hearth and family and personal space.

As one who has spent his life wandering the earth, engaging across cultures, geography, traditions, the notion of displacement has seemed an almost constant fact of my life. I periodically wonder what life shock is going to displace me, again. And yet, even when pre-occupied by the prospects for “home”, regardless of how secure things appear to be, there is always the pervasive sense that even this here and now is not it (home) either; as comforting as it all may be. Being made of stardust, we belong to a larger universe than earth’s boundaries.

Yet even reasonably at home on the earth we are gradually becoming aware, that the very earth we walk on, which has held us here by invisible power of gravity, may be jeopardized in our quest to build or find homes. In other words, our stuff is overwhelming us as we exhaust natural resources at an alarming rate, sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind of environmental degradation graphically seen in our severe droughts, forest fires and withering crops across the planet.

After a summer of smoke-soaked mountains and days of heavy troubled breathing resulting from fires in California, Oregon and Washington, even my earth home is not necessarily the commodious place it once was; which we took for granted, too often. Crisis? Yes! Environmental dysfunction between the necessity of place and the place where we feel secure and stable enough to explore the inner dimensions of our lives is causing even deeper rifts in our being, leaving us confused and out of sorts. Please pray for a successful outcome or progress in the international climate talks beginning soon in the UK.

Perhaps in this season of glorious endings and final fruition of all that can be harvested, we may be driven to find the deeper home within. Prophet and writer, Marv Hiles, once wrote it this way: “what we want is to be completely at home in the house of our own soul. We have been tenants too long…this is what we have been seeking all along.” Our own soul, too often is found wanting and waiting for us to inhabit our true home within. This place is called us, me, I—even with its pervasive transience and tentativeness, there is also the rock solid promise of mystery and wonder. It is the place for which we have searched our whole lives, where we always wanted and needed to be. May your journey in this season into the darkness that is winter bring light and life.

1 thought on “Looking For Home”

  1. Charles Frank Long

    Thank you again, Ted for your stirring and meaningful words. I find myself almost singing some of the sentences rather than reading them. Your truths and sustaining graceful insights are so very needed by our world today.

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