Thursday, August 12, 2010

Home by Another Way

And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.
-Matthew 2:12

The magi described in St. Matthew’s Gospel showed they were wise men, indeed, when they dodged King Herod and went “home by another way” after visiting the new-born Christ child.
I’d like to say there’s some kind of wisdom afoot in our choice of routes to and from the places we go, but, often enough, it just sort of happens. Like many travelers, the road we take to a place is sometimes based on a ‘shortest and fastest” criteria, while our return very often involves a little more scenery, a bigger bit of history and local color, and even some on-the-road adventure from time to time. On our most recent outbound drive, a visit to our younger son and family in coastal North Carolina, we chose a mainstream route, traveling via interstate highways through the green hills of Kentucky and Tennessee and crossing the breathtaking Great Smoky Mountains at Knoxville as we headed into Asheville, North Carolina and on to the coast. But heading back, we wandered north on a two-lane highway, moving into Virginia at Mount Airy, the boyhood home of actor Andy Griffith, which was the inspiration for the TV-town of Mayberry. After looking in vain for Andy, Opie and Aunt Bea, we rolled through the winding hills and mountainsides of West Virginia, experiencing a gullywasher thunderstorm that featured high-velocity, sideways winds that had our rooftop-mounted kayaks begging to fly free into the abysses below.
No matter where we’ve been, it seems that our journeys back to Galva are likely those that involve the most off-the-beaten-track travel, probably because we’re no longer in an “anxious to see kids, grandkids or other family and friends” mode.
Instead, we’re heading home, and there’s not always the same sense of urgency, so “home by another way” is often our theme.
She: “Have we been this way before?”
Me: “I’ve been pretty much lost since about nine this morning. Isn’t it great?”
But we’re always happy to finally get there.
“I’m glad to go, but I’m always glad to come home,” she said to me the other night as we rolled into our darkened driveway at the end of our most recent outing.
And I agree, because while there are a lot of fun, exciting, memorable trips to be made, a return to the town where I grew up and where we raised our family together is truly a treat as well.
While we kinda keep in touch by reading the Star Courier online, and via Facebook and email, there’s always something waiting for us in the place where we hang our hats. Sometimes it’s as simple as the notes left by our friendly, neighborhood cat-watcher, who regales me with what I like to call the “Tom Cat Chronicles,” her day-to-day recounting of the various bad attitudes displayed by the surly Max while under her care. I look, hopefully, to see that the lawn hasn’t gotten too out of hand in my absence, while laughing to see what has sprung up in our crazy, out-of-control flower beds while we’ve been gone. Most recently, the wisteria vine that grows on the south side of our house snuck in through the window that houses the air conditioner and wrapped itself around the pole lamp next to my favorite chair, greeting me, as it were, with its out-of-place, leafy presence.
Even after a short jaunt, it’s good to greet neighbors and friends, getting the lowdown on what’s new and what’s not, while basking in the glow of friendly faces and a warm welcome home. We go to church in our own parish after visiting both country chapels and big city cathedrals and realize the ongoing love and faithfulness we can always find in our own small-town niche.
We answer questions...
“Was the weather good?”
“How were those grandkids?”
“Did the kayaks blow off the roof?”
...and we ask questions of our own, hearing both wonderful news, like the birth of a friend’s long-anticipated baby girl, and sad tidings, like the death of a neighbor’s beloved pet.
We laugh and dream and plan and remember and think about the next time we’ll go and come home again by another way.
But for now, we’re just glad to be here.
Because home, by any way we choose, is one place we’ll always want to be.

It's best to go home by another way
Home by another way
We got this far to a lucky star
But tomorrow is another day
We can make it another way
Safe home as they used to say
Keep a weather eye to the chart on high
And go home another way

-James Taylor, “Home by Another Way”

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