There is an old saying that states “You can never go home.” The meaning behind that phrase is that, no matter how much you try, going back to whatever felt like ‘home’ in your past is never be the same. Similar to the phrase “You can never step in the same river twice”, with time comes change. Going ‘back home’ may bring mourning and sadness because things are always different after a passage of time.
This past weekend, I made a trip back ‘home’. I was raised at a Baptist church just north of town. My husband jokes that I cut my teeth on the pews there. As a child, we were there every Sunday morning and evening, every Wednesday night and usually many days in between for various programs and events. All of my childhood friends were members there. To this day, I still have a T-shirt that I sleep in that I got on a summer mission trip when I was in the youth group. (Yes, it’s old and worn and it is sort of amazing that I can still wear it!) I grew up there. All of my faith-based foundations happened there. Regardless of the number of years since I married and moved away, it will always be home.
On Sunday, my niece was baptized at that church and I went to be a part of her special day.
Upon pulling into the parking lot and situating my family in a visitor’s parking spot, my husband laughed and said “I don’t know if we can park here. After all, your name is carved in the back of at least a few of those pews.” He was right. It felt less like visiting and more like going to a family reunion. Even after twenty years of living elsewhere or attending church in another building, there were familiar faces that greeted me and asked where I had been. It was as if I had just been out sick a week or two and they were concerned about my well-being.
It was such a sweet experience to sit through the service and look around. My childhood best friend's parents still sit in the same seats. The baptistery where my niece was submerged is the same one I was baptized in. I noticed the perch where I once sat to play the part of Josephus in a childhood choir program. My high school algebra teacher still sang and played piano. My all-time favorite childhood Sunday school teacher was there to hug my neck. A good friend's husband still mans the sound booth. The youth group still sat just to the right of the pulpit near the front. It was a sweet treat to share an hour with so many voices and memories from my past.
But like the saying goes, you can never go home. There were a lot of things that were different as well. The choir loft is gone. The organist I grew up with wasn't there. The crowd was a little smaller. It wasn’t exactly the same church it once was, but that’s how it goes. Time marches on. People change. Churches do, too. It was not a bad difference, but it wasn’t exactly the church of my youth.
However, as we sang a song that said “Our God saves.” I glanced down the pew and saw my still-wet niece raising her voice while holding hands with her sister. Indeed, it is a different church now but the same message still echoes through the rafters.
Maybe you can’t ever go home, but sometimes it’s worth a trip just to see what home looks like now. Have you been home lately? Maybe it’s time for a trip.