William Evan’s Story About Home

Many long years ago when I was a very small boy, and my younger sister was a very small girl, we lived in a house that had a very large front yard.  The front of the yard, furthest from the screen-enclosed front porch of our house, bordered a Farm to Market road.  The road was fairly busy and several Chinese Tallow trees (better known in this part of Texas as chinaberry or tallaberry) bordered our yard, close to the road.  I spent much time in one of those trees, reading about Tarzan and learning about gravity by jumping from one limb to the other and frequently tumbling to the ground.

Though I do not recall the offense, I do recall that there was a day when my sister decided she had to leave the house for good and so she ran away; all the way to the very edge of the road near the trees in the front yard… and there she lay in the tall grass for what seemed like forever. 

I was concerned and delighted as only an older brother could be.  I was fascinated by what might happen to my sister as she exercised her self-will and decided to do what she pleased.  Though, as my sister was sensible enough to follow the rule of not going into the street as she left home, I was becoming more interested in my mother’s reaction to my sister’s act of defiance.

As forever was slowly ticking away, I decided that the experiment was going stale and went to tell my mother that my sister had left home… that my sister had run away!

My announcement that a beloved member of our family was gone forever was not greeted with what I felt was the appropriate amount of consternation, or even dismay.  My mother calmly stopped whatever mothers did in those days, walked to the front porch, glanced outside through the screen, and then went back inside to continue her business.        

I went back outside and kept my sister company in her leaving home adventure.  I did not sit very close, as my sister was obviously taking pains to remain hidden in the grass, but I sat close enough that I could see her.

This watching got old very quickly and, as my attention span was appropriate to my size, it was drawn elsewhere, as only a small boy’s attention can be, and I left my sister in her misery in the grass underneath the tree by the road.

I don’t recall what prompted my sister to come back to the house and to stop running away, but she came back with more hurt feelings than she left with.  She was very upset that no one came to find her.  My mother hugged and comforted my sister appropriately and told my sister that she had been watching her and waiting for her to come home.  This announcement, that she had been watching her, was quietly greeted with skepticism since she had been so very far away.     

Several years ago, I decided to visit as many of the homes that I grew up in as I could find.  When I returned to the home in this story, I was staggered by how small the house was and by the tiny front yard and the scraggly trees still lining the road.  Why, I could practically cross the entire yard in several long steps!  I felt like I had stepped into a time warp.  My very small boy memory and reality clashed there underneath the trees where I learned of gravity. 

It became clear to me that my mother was not concerned those long years ago because she could see my sister the entire time my sister was running away.  Further, my mother knew she could rapidly get to my sister if my sister had taken the next step in self-will and left the yard.

The Death of the Hired Man is a poem written by Robert Frost.  A line in the poem says, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in”.  I believe this to be true.

In contrast to the sentiment that Frost expressed, novelist Thomas Wolfe wrote a book titled You Can’t Go Home Again.  I think you can go home again.  You may be different when you arrive, but you can still get there.

Best of all, thousands and thousands of years ago, a man called Jesus, told a tale of a young man that left home in self-will.  This young man in Jesus’ story demanded his inheritance that was his by right, and left his home for reasons that are not stated, but that would make perfect sense to any of us that have ever left home.  The young man lived his life according to his conscience and his desires, limited only by his shrinking budget.  Until at last the young man ran out of money (and the kind of friends that money brings) and found himself in a pigpen wrestling with pigs over scraps of food.  This young man decided to return to his home and to the Loving Father and family he left behind.

The Loving Father sees the young man coming back home and runs to greet him and makes him welcome and restores the young man to the family.  The older brother who had been working faithfully in the fields for his Loving Father while his younger brother has been away partying like a wild man becomes upset by his Loving Father’s extravagance and you just know there is going to be trouble from the Good Son as time goes on.

Jesus closes the story before we learn of what kind of trouble or how much, but we all know ourselves, and we all know our fellow man, and we know that hurt feelings and difficult conversations are coming to that house.

When those that were organizing the ancient Book of Life that is called the Bible titled this particular story The Prodigal Son, they may have missed the focus.  To my mind, the story would be more aptly titled, The Loving Father.

I was recently asked what home is.  And more importantly how does one get back home after leaving, particularly if the person left in an unhealthy way.

It seems to me that all of us are caught up in leaving and returning… almost a pattern, if you will, or a dance of leaving and returning.

And to what do we return?  What home is there to return to?  Do “they” really have to let you in when you return?  The Good Son is always working in the background.  How far to run is too far? Prostitution?  Gluttony?  Never stopping when you are full, but always having those last few bites, that last snack?  Anger?  Using your emotions as a weapon or a tool to accomplish your will?  Alcoholism?  Child Molesting? Murder?  Unforgiveness?  Keeping those who have wronged you on the hook as it were, never letting them go and keeping yourself bound as well?  Shame?  Self-loathing?  How far is too far?

Oh, the degrees and subtleties and nuances of our very own pigpen!

I believe that home is Love… that the Loving Father that Jesus spoke of is home.  I believe that the return to Love is as simple as glancing His way… and as difficult as setting aside our self-will and the harm we do to ourselves and those around us.  I believe that Love is as close to us as the air Love provides.  I believe that to even sigh with longing in Loves direction will draw you to Love, to wholeness, to Life.

I can’t tell you what might happen when you turn your face to Love.  Love both calls to and responds to each of us individually, as Love created us individually.

I am a loving father myself, not even in the same sentence should I be mentioned with The Loving Father, the Creator who is very Love itself, but even I know how to respond to the three people that are my children.

I knew how to respond to them when they could only cry or whimper, when they were helpless.  I knew how to respond to them as they grew older and more articulate.  I know how to respond to them now when they are grown and married and have children of their own.

You are in a very small yard watched over by a very Loving Father.  A Father who loves you so much that He lets you run away.  A Loving Father waits for you.  Come home to Love.   

William Evans

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With Love, Nana Ann

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