I’m not exactly sure what “resonance” is. But when a space is resonant, sound stays alive. Goes out, keeps coming back.
Our church sanctuary is in the middle of restoration. Carpet gone. Walls incomplete. And on Sunday, resounding with the sound of children’s voices and drumming, a mournful oboe and exultant choir.
I think it’s good to have a resonant space for a church to gather, reminded of the great cathedrals of Europe. And at its best, when people gather as church, there is an echoing. Memory, gifts of the past. This present, now. Future hope.
It was “Homecoming Sunday” at church last week, and there is probably no more “resonant” word in the English language than “home”. Ask any 6 or 76 year old and they will have something to tell you about home. The memory of home. The presence of home. The longing for home.
“Jesus” is another word that resonates. Something about him. What he did. His way of being in the world, his way with people. Certainly, many have been attracted to Jesus for many different reasons. And I wonder today if there is something about “Jesus” that has called people “home”. Not so much to a “home” out there, somewhere, for Jesus often called people to leave their homes, as life often does, for all of us. But to the “home” right here, within ourselves.
Ask me about “home” and I will tell you about a place I never lived but where I spent some of the most treasured days in my childhood: my grandparent’s farm in rural central New Hampshire.
I could take you all over that old farm. Show you everything. Like here, that place as you step into the kitchen. That spot on the worn wood floor that creaks. Sit with you, here, at the long kitchen table with the plastic tablecloth and print of pink flowers. Stand, backs to the wood stove, warming with you, as we return from cross country skiing in my grandfather’s woodlot. Dripping water, pooling at our feet. The sound of the pressure cooker popping with my grandfather’s baked beans cooking on the stove. The scent of oatmeal rolls in the oven.
And stand with you here, before I left for college, where my grandfather, a man of few words, shook my hand. Held it. Looked me in the eye, and I knew that he loved me.
Yes, I could take you everywhere. Show you everything. But really, of course, I am taking you around inside me. For you know what home is. It’s that place where you are at home in yourself. And I was so at home here – in my joy, my wonder, my discovery, myself.
I’ve come a far country from that place. Grew up. And other worlds called me out. To make something of myself. Make a family. Make a difference. And in my successes and failures of doing such things, I learned to be strong and competent, to stand up for myself and to fight. To make a home for myself, an important part of growing up.
But all this making and doing, that life often demands, not all I have needed. Especially now, in this season of my life.
When the crowd gathered, and Jesus invited them to sit with him on the hillside, he spoke to them of blessings. Blessings that we call “The Beatitudes”. Not so much blessings that we go out and find, but blessings that find us. Quieter virtues. More vulnerable places. Our need, tears, longing. Places within. The kind of places I discovered within myself on my grandparent’s farm.
If “church” has anything to do with home, it might have to do with calling us back to these vulnerable, human, truth-filled places within. To what amidst all of our doing is most important.
It was 4 AM and a long way from home. Another coast. Set up camp late that night. We had a long day ahead of us and much we wanted to do. But something, something more important to do now.
Here, early morning, my nephew and I crawled out of our sleeping bags, threw on our sweatshirts, got into the car and drove up the mountain. Here, on the edge of the coast of Maine, Cadillac Mountain. The first place in the country, you can see the sun rise over the Atlantic.
It was cold, windy that morning. And oh, so clear. The edge of the continent breaking away in small island clusters. The vast blue beyond. Was it Jesus I found? Perhaps. Certainly, something that morning of grace, peace. Something more important than just getting on with the duties of the day. Something I needed to remember.
The sun shone out over the sea.
The days ahead resonated with the splendor of hills, sparkling with light.