For my 11th birthday my parents got me a suitcase. It was probably designer labeled. All I remember is it was large and red and foretold of trips to come.
The following summer my suitcase and I spent 8 weeks at a summer camp in Maine. That first night the chirpy counselors gave us postcards to send home telling of our safe arrival. I scribbled a desperate plea in teeny letters at the bottom, “Please come get me! I hate it here!” They did come, but not until parents weekend mid-summer. The mail must have been very slow.
Then at age 14 I watched the family station wagon pull away, leaving me and my suitcase in rural Virginia in the middle of horse country – with no horse and no clue as to how to fit in. It was an all-girls school where your team designation, a Fox or a Hound, was a religion, where hazing was commonplace, where you slept in bunk beds within chilly screened in porches.
At 18 my suitcase and I went to a Christian college in suburban Chicago where I started mid-year and struggled to break into already bonded friendship circles – in spite of the welcoming sign on my dorm room door, “Smile, New Girl. God loves you.”
When I went home for Spring Break, my bedroom had been turned into a guest room. A lovely room. (My mother was a decorator.) But the message was clear. There was no going home in the sense of staying.
I came to realize that Home was not a place. And glomming onto bedroom memories only made me more lonely.
Home was a person. A God whose companionship I began to seek. And still seek.
God gives Shelter. Not suitcases.
And that has been enough.
1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”