Josefa, my wife, would find this response amusing.
I have, for the past 9 years, found myself in some form of exile from my home – not by an external force, but by my own choices. North Carolina, specifically a very small mountainous region of the state, is where I was born and raised. The first 18 years of my life were spent in the same home, going to the same barber, hunting the same woods, knowing the same people – and knowing them more deeply year over year. Even now, when I go home, within minutes I am sure to see people who I know very personally, and who, in turn, know me – having helped raise me. And the place has some sacred quality about it. The Baptist church across the street from my home chimes bells on the hour. I see trees that I planted when I was only 8 or 9 that now reach 30 feet and are bearing fruit, and I’m reminded of what it feels like to belong to a place, a culture, a people.
The dark side of having a home and belonging to a place, is that by not being there I am incomplete, wandering, a stranger everywhere else. I think this concept is lost on most Americans. Maybe if more of us read Wendell Berry, we would build homes or would be willing to only bear exile for a time before, like prodigal children, returning home.
For the past few days I’ve been considering Jeremiah 29 and the dual concepts hospitality and exile. It’s counterintuitive, to me, to think of hospitality apart from home – but that’s what God calls His people to. Also, I imagine that what I feel towards my home, is what I ought to feel towards the Kingdom of God. Yet, I’ve been a member of (or involved in) Lutheran, Presbyterian, Anglican, Baptist, and Catholic churches and the idea of our Christian destination being a physical Kingdom of God has not been central to the homilies or teachings of any of these churches. So I’m excited to continue exploring this idea of home, hospitality, and exile through a Hebraic lens.