Later I climb the maple tree and "hunt" the barn cats as they yawn in the afternoon sun, their heads resting on pillows of crossed paws. I clamber to the barn loft and arrange the bales of hay into an impenetrable, itchy "Alamo." I’m Davy Crockett taking on Santa Ana. Once Texas is secured (and I am sufficiently martyred), I take a break for lunch. (Even John Wayne has to eat.) Mom yells out the back door, and I scramble down the ladder and through the alley-way past the wooden feed bin filled with dusty yellow hog feed. I turn right, run ten steps, leap over a fifty-year-old fence that long ago lost its last bit of paint, and dash across the barnyard and into the house.
I sit down to eat, but mom tells me to wash up and get ready to go to the field to meet dad. There is a mayonnaise jar on the table, and it is filled with ice water. Condensation trickles down its side onto the News-Sentinel beneath it. I wash my hands in the ancient porcelain sink while mom wraps the jar with news stories about a peanut farmer turned President and sets it in a bucket next to meatloaf sandwiches and a half-filled bag of Seyfert’s.
At the field, my sister and I wait with mom until our family’s bright green Oliver tractor completes its round and pulls up short of where I strain at mom’s hand. Dad shuts the motor off. Today, he has time to enjoy lunch. If there were rain clouds to the west, he’d just grab the bucket, eat on the run, and toss the leftovers to me the next time around. But the sun is shining, and both he and the tractor can use the rest.
He climbs down, and the four of us flop at the edge of the field, our backs to the rusty wire fence. We tussle and laugh. Dad makes up silly rhymes. He wonders out loud about the promise of this year’s crop. I am home.
At least, I am as close to home as I can be on this earth.
In the heart of every person, there is a longing to go home but not to the place of our birth or to the town where we grew up. While we pine for the places of our childhood, the longing for our earthly "home" is but a hint of the real yearning to which it alludes - the desire to go home to be with the Father.
"There are many rooms in my Father's home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am." John 14:2-3 (NLT)I guess I’m just a little homesick.