Returning home

No Place Like HomeI love this series, “There’s No Place Like Home,” because of the many rich contributions from thoughtful, deep writers. There’s more to come in the following weeks and months, but I wanted to break in today with a post inspired by the community here in Spain which feels like a home away from home.

The chapel at El Palmeral.

The chapel at El Palmeral.

We gather for morning prayer in the outdoor chapel, letting the words of the Celtic prayers move us into communicating with God. We’re accompanied by the strains of Anna Raine singing through parts of the liturgy. It’s a favorite part of my week here at El Palmeral in Spain.

But the closing song of our time of prayer always provokes emotion in me, for the music and words make me long for home. Here’s the blessing of which I speak, as found on the Northumbria Community website:

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you,
wherever He may send you.
May He guide you through the wilderness,
protect you through the storm.
May He bring you home rejoicing
at the wonders He has shown you.
May He bring you home rejoicing
once again into our doors.

DSCN4156I get choked up at the going out and coming back, for it makes me remember that I’m sent. Not only am I sent from my parent’s home into the world, but I’m sent from the States to the UK. I’m sent this week from London to Elche to lead this retreat. I’ll be sent in May to Glasgow and Gloucestershire. We’re sent out, and then we return home.

Home rejoicing, as the words say. Home, thankful for the work the Lord has done in and through us when we’ve been away. Home to rest and relax and recuperate and renew. Home to work.

And I guess the song hooks into my emotions because I think of leaving the friends here – new friends and old – and yet I look forward to going back to see my family. (This is intensified because during the last singing of the verse on the last day, we grasp hands and look at each person, bestowing the blessing on them with eye contact and smiles.) And I think of all the friends and family I don’t get to see on a regular basis, because our homes are hundreds or thousands of miles apart. And the longing returns to be reunited.

And of course the largest longing of all is to be with God and loved ones in the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom that can be here and now; the kingdom to come.

May we love and bless and be at home this day.

Detail from the large mural depicting Jacob's ladder on the back wall of the chapel.

Detail from the large mural depicting Jacob’s ladder on the back wall of the chapel.

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