Faces on Faith: Coming home, going home, being home
This is the time of year when many of our snowbirds have returned north. Sanibel is their home for six or seven months of the year, but somewhere else is home the rest of the time. Home is important – literally and figuratively. We all appreciate a familiar bed to sleep in and a roof over our heads. But some of us may feel a long way from home, even in our houses, our condos or our apartments. The ones here, or the ones up north. Divorce, death, displacement and despair can throw anyone off kilter and bring about a sense of dislocation. Where is love, we may wonder, where is home? It is at all times, but especially at such times, that our faith communities can help mediate the love of God. It is why it is so vital that congregations always seek to be a welcoming, accepting presence.
Sometimes I hear people talk about my congregation as their church home. What a lovely way to describe a congregation. Indeed, many people have told me they experience God’s love here and among this people in a very special way. How wonderful!
In her book “Traveling Mercies,” writer Anne LaMott tells a true story about a little seven-year-old girl who got lost. Frantically she ran from street corner to street corner, trying to find her house. She was frantic with fear. Eventually she is spotted by a policeman who stops his patrol car to help her out. He drives her around the neighborhood until she sees her church. Stop, she tells him, you can let me out here. “This is my church, and I can always find my way home from here.” “And that,” writes LaMott, “is why I stay close to (my church) – because no matter how bad I am feeling, how lost or lonely or frightened, when I see the faces of the people and hear their tawny voices, I can always find my way home.”
Be it church, or synagogue, or mosque or temple, one’s faith community can be – and at its best is – a second home. Here or up north!
The Rev. Dr. John H. Danner is the senior pastor at Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ.