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Monday, 9 March 2015


Old familiar territory. And yet...it’s changed.

It’s been a weekend of revisiting favourite dog walks, so some nostalgia and deep sighing. Miss the spontaneous joy a dog can generate – like the spontaneous joy of watching a baby or toddler discover the world, the flowers, the butterflies, and so on. It’s hard to conjure that up. Your spirit can be at peace, content, but it sometimes requires a spark to ignite a burst of laughter. Young eyes to remind one of the marvel of our world.

The path round the Enchanted Forest is less defined. I don’t think I can attribute that to Dusty’s demise; there must be others who used to walk there who walk there no more. A neighbour with dogs has moved away. The gamekeeper no longer has jurisdiction there as a shooting syndicate has moved in, and maybe their cage-reared pheasants don’t wander into those woods. Maybe they stay near the feeding stations. Hmm. That sounds like another topic...

It doesn’t take long for a well-trodden path to fade, to over-grow, to disappear. It isn’t hard to get lost in the undergrowth or to strike out along a deer run or a rabbit trail rather than on the walk that takes me home.

Home. Tony ended his sermon yesterday with two words. Welcome home. I don’t know how others reacted, but tears sprang into my eyes immediately. I wasn’t too sure why, though it did remind me of watching The Wizard of Oz with Mhairi years ago (over and over on video) and always wanting to cry when Dorothy clicked her magic red slippers together and repeated, ‘There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.’, and then finally woke up back home in Kansas and exclaimed, ‘Oh, Auntie Em, there’s no place like home!’ 

I’ve lived in Scotland now for forty years, two-thirds of my life, and yet whenever I head back to LA I always find myself saying, ‘I’m going home.’ I guess that, in addition to my mother still living in the home I grew up in and me sleeping in the same bedroom I knew from the age of 1, the memories of childhood are indelibly printed on each of our spirits. Somehow they resonate down the years and excite an emotional response (I am aware as I write this that for too many, that might not be a good emotional response. And I am sorry for that.) 

Tony’s suggestion that the church family is our home, in which we are welcome, loved and nurtured, is wonderful. No matter what our memories of ‘home’ are; no matter how convoluted our paths have been nor how many rabbit trails we’ve followed, when we come into the body of believers we have come home. A place of unconditional love.

That is the goal anyway. As it says in Ephesians, a letter Paul wrote to a struggling church on the coast of Turkey, ‘In Jesus the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.’

In Jesus. That is the only place of unconditional love. If we are not being built together in Jesus, our ‘home’ will not be a place where everyone is accepted and loved, a place where sinners can come and be welcomed.

Jesus was accused of spending time, eating dinner with sinners. Thank God for that, because if he didn’t I for one wouldn’t deserve a second glance from him.

Instead, he welcomes me home.

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