Root us in a place, Lord, that we might find our home in you.The Book of Common Prayer
We are such a transient society. Me, this girl who lived in the same tiny town until I was twenty-three? Even I have moved more times that I would have thought. Three towns in Texas, one in Pennsylvania, then four different houses in Middle Tennessee over the past twenty-five years have given me a collection of memories and friends that I treasure. But all those moves have also given me a deep desire for roots that run deep.
We moved here to our home at Arundelle Green in July. The house felt so familiar. Traditional, a little rustic and worn, and spacious. We quickly realized it felt a lot like our old home, the one we lived in the longest (for twelve years) and left during a particularly difficult season of life. That move was good and, I believe, necessary. That move prepared us for here, for this place that is our final destination on this earth. I honestly believe we would not have appreciated what we have been given on this land if we had not lived a season away from our community and friends, away in a neighborhood surrounded by land that wasn’t ours.
God used that season and prepared us to receive this place with joy. And we have.
Just this morning I stood on my front porch, waving goodbye to two dear friends who had graced me with their presence and laughter. At my feet, our cats circled and purred. In the distance, cows mooed loudly and I could hear a tractor nearby. The wind blew across my face as the sun glinted off the rippled surface of the pond and I breathed deeply this country air. I breathed it in and thanked God for this place, this space, and the freedom that comes from being surrounded by acres instead of fences.
The book of Common Prayer says, “Root us in a place, Lord, that we might find our home in you,” and I wonder, how do we do that in a world where homes are disposable? Where friendships disintegrate over politics and angry words poured forth over a computer keyboard? Where military families get, at most, a handful of years before starting over again? Or foster children drift from home to home with only a backpack (if they are lucky) full of possessions? How do we find roots when the tree is constantly being chopped down by loss, death, fear and brokenness?
“That we might find our home in you.”
Yes, maybe that is the key, the “why” of our need for roots. Maybe it’s not the roots themselves that we are seeking and missing, but Him. God. He who is our home. He who makes home a place He inhabits.
Maybe it’s less about earthly roots than about relational ones. Maybe, in this season of loss, death, fear and brokenness we are missing the whole point–the fact that Jesus is the foundation, the cornerstone of our lives, of lives desperately seeking wholeness and restoration, purpose and light.
The military families do it well. They know the secret to settling in to a new assignment quickly is to find their people, the friends who have been neighbors and coworkers in previous places. Their support system is strong and the roots are evident, despite the continual change in material surroundings.
We miss out on that, don’t we? Those of us who have had to start over from scratch, from literal scratch and don’t know a soul in the world? We walk into a room full of strangers and leave feeling unseen, unknown.
“Root us in a place, Lord.”
What if that place isn’t a place at all, but a person?
I remember meeting my friend, Vicki, and feeling an instant connection. A knowing that I couldn’t explain. We talked for hours and trust was easily won. We shared deeply and easily found common ground in the experiences of our past leading up to that point, She said it best..
“We recognize Jesus in each other.”
“Root us in a place, Lord.”
Ezekiel 37:27 says, “My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be My people.”
He dwells with us, He who is our dwelling place is our God and we are His people, a family connected by a common thread that weaves through our souls.
We, His family, recognize Jesus in each other and that is how we know we are home.
“Root us in a place, Lord.”
“The God of old is your dwelling place,Deuteronomy 33:27
and underneath are the everlasting arms.”
Now I understand.
The answer to the plea of the Book of Common Prayer does not lie within walls of plaster or between boundaries of property lines. The place we seek is not one upon which we stand or within which we arrange our furniture. The place we seek is a person. It is God. And we, who dwell in that place, find our home there, in Him. All of us. We find our home and our spiritual family and we, then, can carry that with us no matter where circumstances take us because the DNA of God runs through the veins of brothers and sisters of every nation, tribe and tongue. No matter how foreign the soil, if there is a church we are not starting from scratch. Like the military families who share a common history, we share a common Savior.
A common heart.
A common land undivided by fences and property lines. One whose air is fresh and cool, laced with streams of living water from which we are all free to drink.
I waved goodbye to my friends and turned, shooing the cats away so I could open the front door. I poured a glass of tea and settled onto the couch with a dog warm beside me to do a little writing. Then my phone dinged with a text from one of the women who had just driven away…
“You two give me life.”
That is the point of it all. Life. Through a common heartbeat that echoes of family and love and shared experiences, of loss and failure and arms held high by the strong ones when we are weak, we find life and life abundant.
We find place.
“Root us in a place, Lord, that we might find our home in you.”
Yes, Lord, that we might find our home in you.