Until I went to college, I lived almost my entire life in the same house in the same town. 

And yet, in the almost ten years since I graduated from high school, I have migrated from place to place, never living more than four years in any one location.  All the while, I never fully felt that where I called home really was. 

I have a deep love of home.  I derive comfort from the familiar.  Adventure and mystery do not appeal to me.  And even though I appreciate a new start, I have learned to brace myself for the inevitable loneliness that accompanies it.

I long to establish roots somewhere.  I have a deep desire to invest and commit in ways that simply don’t happen to the same extent when you know your time somewhere is transitional.

Although part of it is self-protective, it’s mostly because distance requires time to overcome.  Acquaintance leads to knowledge, knowledge to trust, trust to love and appreciation.  These things do not happen overnight.

To know a place and to know its people, patience must reign because walls do not fall away quickly.  To care for a place and its people, the road traveled together must be long and often hard, as affection grows deeper with time.

It might seem strange for me to admit this unsatisfied heart-longing, given that my vocational endeavours have been deeply rooted in community development and urban poverty issues.  True though it may be, my efforts have always been limited to seasons of investment.  Brief moments of time in which to learn and contribute what I can while I can.  Shallow roots pulled out before the harvest.

During the summer I spent in Camden, a friend sent me a card decorated with a single verse: 

Your statutes are my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.  (Psalm 119:54, NASB)

And I started to realize then that God had not promised me familiarity or permanence.  That, even if I spent the rest of my life in one place, I would still long for home.  And as long as I tread this earthly sod, there is only one home where I will never be a stranger.

Beneath the shadow of two well-worn pieces of wood. 

It is finished.

Welcome home.

But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.  They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water.  Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought.  Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.  (Jeremiah 17:7-8, NLT)