The houses spread over the hill like a deck of cards, where once it was a desert-land scattered with cattails and solitude. The highway looked the same as it always has with speeding cars and remnants of failed tires, but turning off the exit brought a place unfamiliar to me. I felt like a stranger in my own hometown.
Chickenpea met us at the gate, dust-coated fur and a nub of a tail going like a propeller. Even the dog was different than the one that saw me off to college. He was now more interested in my children – the new roots in an old land. He ran around with Chloe, chasing and being chased with an understanding only kids and dogs have; here and now.
The mom who met me at the door will always be my mom, although her hair has been painted with a few more strands of silver.
“Happy Easter!” We celebrate with ham and nice clothes, playing and remembering.
The grass yard where I used to hunt eggs has been devoured by gophers and the sun, leaving only the shade tree, pruned and bare, waiting for the extravagance of spring.
I think of the One who spent a day on an undressed Easter tree, making the way for new life and a perfect home…
My brother played with the kids, as do all good uncles and shaped play doh
over the coffee table that holds the photo album of our Grandpa’s kin. In it are family members, who like all of us came from one place only to move on to somewhere else. You can almost see the questions on their faces: Will it be better there? Do my answers reside on the other side of the mountain?
The house we sit in was shaped by the hands of our father, gone on to his eternal home but his thumbprint still lingers in the saddle, the cowboy hat and our blue eyes that still search for him.
Since Adam and Eve moved on from Eden, mankind has become nomads, searching for new life, new possibilities and always trying to make it back to the garden again – to run like children and commune with our Father in paradise.
On the way out of town, we stop at McDonalds to satisfy the forever hunger of our children.
“Who is that Mommy?” asked Noah, pointing to a man at the counter. I look around and don’t recognize a single face – this being one of those small towns that claims to know everybody has become a town of strangers to me.
“Just someone who is hungry, son.”
Returning home, we find the smells of breakfast lingering in the house and carry in sleepy children, played out for the day.
When our eyes close to the darkness, we rest with dreams of green grass and the cross only to wake to a new day, remembering that we are not standing in our final home. As we follow the furrowed road that eventually becomes reflected around the corners of our eyes and in the palms of our hands, we realize that this nomadic life will bring us back to paradise one day – Back to the perfect place, with our Father who rained His love on us from the Easter tree.
They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. John 17:16