Familiarity is a funny thing. Our hearts naturally grow accustomed to familiar surroundings: smells, traffic patterns, and wardrobes of passing pedestrians. Jerusalem has, over the course of these past four and half months, become familiar. I know where to get the best falafel in the Old City. I’ve discovered the city’s best used book store. I’ve even uncovered the best place to get a pint and write poetry. I rise every morning smelling the flowers outside my window, yawn, walk (sometimes barefoot) across the cobblestone pathway which leads from my dorm room to the cafeteria where Nat and Shirley (our Texan chefs) have faithfully blended massive amounts of TLC with my morning granola.
Jerusalem has become familiar…it will never be home.
Over the course of my time in this land of dust and sun I’ve learned that true homecoming is an inward reality. Our faint hearts finally rest when we submit to the staggering truth that He is our home. And so wherever we are, whatever corner of the globe our feet march across, when our hearts have found peace with Christ, our sojourning will forever fail in carrying us beyond the threshold of His grip. Wherever we are, we are home.
I think back to the weather beaten Greek Orthodox monastery that housed me during my first month in Israel. I was lonely there. I waded through long nights of tears wrestling with the question of who I am when separated from friends, possessions and familiarities. As wind and rain created a rhythm to those winter nights, I began a long journey home while in the midst of a foreign land.
Soon after I arrived in Israel, a friend of mine released a worship album. One song in particular drove a stake through the center of all I was feeling while on the top of the Mount of Olives and became a sort of anthem for the journey I was on. The chorus goes like this:
Hold my hand
I’m sick of fighting in a foreign land
Dreaming of home again,
when home’s the only place I’ve never been
Heart in hand,
your child’s asking for the Promised Land
In your arms again
I find I’m closer than I’ve ever been.
In less than two weeks I’ll be coming “home.” In truth, I’ve never left.