From my earliest memories, at age three or four, I can remember a feeling of restless belonging. I knew I belonged. The gift of belonging was strong. My parents and brothers positively dominate my memories. Yet, the fear of how long it would last was always present.
The sense of fear has defining moments, although they were not always visible at the time. The quietness of a night in Tokyo still sits in my mind. My nine-year-old brother and I (age ten) were midpoint in our journey from San Francisco to Bombay. It was 1965. We had emptied the mini-bar in our room of everything (no alcohol in those days). We were exhausted. I could hear his breathing. We seemed to be an eternity from anything we knew as home and yet we were family. Where we were was home.
There were a series of mini-moments over the next two years. They reached a critical point as I unpacked my small suitcase in my dorm room at boarding school. It was the late summer of 1967. While the world struggled with protest and turmoil, the only thing I knew was that I was a three-day journey by taxi and train from my traditional family. On that first night, darkness enveloped my soul. I was certain that I would never see anything again with hope. I woke to a stunning view of the mountains, forest, and bright morning sun. I had no idea what I was looking at. I did know I was safe and among friends. I also knew I was home.
Decades later, I count my family as my closest friends. My life is still filled with dark nights and fear. I wish my reference point was that from “the time of my youth, my life has been lived among my own people in Jerusalem.” (Acts 26.4) However, my life has been quite different. What remains the same, for you and me, is the knowing of belonging that comes when we realize that we are among friends and with God. We are home.