I visited a record shop today. It sits on a side street about two blocks from my office. If you weren’t looking for it, you’d never find it. I think the owner, Larry, likes it that way. You must call him and set up an appointment to browse through his well-organized crates. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but it’s a wonderland on the inside. The shop is a time capsule of music and culture wrapped up by a few brick walls.
I’ve called many places home. As a child I called Ft. Knox, Kentucky and Bindlach, Germany and Ft. Knox, Kentucky (yes, twice) and Ft. Bliss, Texas and Manhattan, Kansas and Ft. Riley, Kansas and Ft. Hood, Texas … home. As an adult I’ve called Belton and Temple and Waco and Crawford and Sulphur Springs, Texas … home.
My current home, Sulphur Springs, is the land of dairy farms and rodeos. Citizens gathers each year for the dairy festival and the stew contest. They gather each Sunday for church. A half mile from my house rests the dairy museum and two very large cows statues. I’ll argue with anyone willing to listen (or read) that downtown Sulphur Springs is the prettiest place in East Texas. The square is highlighted by the historic bell tower of First Baptist Church.
Yet, the landscape of Sulphur Springs does not make it home. It’s the people. It’s the folks who spend Friday nights at the Prim yelling for the Wildcats. It’s the kids showing chickens at the livestock auction. It’s the bank teller and restaurant server who greet you by name. It’s the players of the community theatre. It’s the teacher who spends extra hours on the weekend getting the lesson plans together. It’s the shift workers at Clayton homes, Saputo, Ocean Spray, and Grocery Supply who keep the economy moving forward. It’s the faithful people changing diapers in the church nursery. It’s record shop owners like Larry.
It’s people that make a place home.
It also people that make a place real.
These same people have marital trouble, addictions, bad days and bad attitudes. These same people get sick, get in car accidents, get fired, get angry and petty.
Thomas Wolfe penned the famous words, “Home is the place you cannot return to. You can’t go home again.” Robert Frost heard these sentiments. He pondered them. He turned them over. Robert Frost replied, “Home is the place, when you go there, they have to take you in.” I’ll stick with Frost on this one.
Jesus showed up to a real place and interacted with real people. I’m sure you remember the Christmas story. He loved. He corrected. He encouraged. He rebuked. He visited the sick and healthy. He ate with the wealthy and the poor. He called the fisherman, the zealot, and the tax collector.
The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. And the neighborhood (and the world) has never been the same.