As I mentioned yesterday, I am now in NJ at my seminary's annual alumni lectures.
This year, Seminary Hall is open with a new addition to the building that was at the center of my life for three years. The building is now accessible, has great new preaching labs, restrooms on all floors (formerly a BIG problem!) and generally looks sparkling and fresh while remaining the integrity and history of the original structure. I'm so glad for the school and the future of the seminary and what this building means for room for growth.
At the same time, I experienced walking through the building with a surreal sense of realization of how long, literally and more symbolically, it has been since this place was my home, my community. Each time I return for a visit, it is less and less the place that I went to seminary.
I'm reminded of the gospel accounts of Jesus saying that a prophet is not welcomed in his/her hometown. I experience not a feeling of unwelcome, but the sometimes surprising reminder that this place is no longer home. Who can be welcomed back home again if home is not home anymore?
I remember experiencing those same feelings when I first returned to my highschool, Rome Free Academy, after starting college. The first visit was great - seeing friends and teachers, sharing updates, and reminiscing. After that, follow-up visits felt more like I was a stranger - maybe not an intruder - but definitely like an outsider.
I think this is a good thing - how 'home' always changes for us - even if some transitions are harder than others. I'm reminded that home is not a place, but a state of being - the place where your community is, and where your heart is, cheesy as that perhaps sounds.
Lorna at see-through faith has been doing a series of posts on "fellowship." I think clergy sometimes have a hard time with finding "home." We serve in communities as part of the home of our parishioners, but our position also creates boundaries for us in our communities. So we have to be very intentional about creating our homes, with our family, friends, and colleagues in ministry. I'm sure lay people today experience some similar things. We live in such a crazed world with a crazed pace, that we, in the midst of crowds, are often very solitary creatures.
Where is your home? Where is your community? What are your best home-coming experiences?