My mom rang a bell to call us home. I can still hear the sound of it. It hung outside our front door, and when she
yanked the cord the bell echoed out over Quartermaster Harbor, and I could hear
it. Of course I didn't always heed it-but
I really couldn't say I didn't hear it.
Honestly, that bell rarely felt like
a summons-it was more like an invitation. During the Summer I was simply gone all day,
down the beach, safe somewhere . . . or at least nearby, even if trouble was
looming. We wandered in and out of homes, my little band of 12 year old gypsies. We rarely came to rest anywhere-moving,
grazing for food where we found it, shirtless, shoeless, care-less. And then the bell would ring. Or toll.
And yes, I would wander home.
With gladness, really.
Dinner would be ready. Dad would
be home. There'd be some story about my
little sister; some news I didn't know.
After dinner my brother and I would swap stories and brag about who had
done the craziest stuff during the day, and who had just escaped some
ridiculous danger. And then we would
wander out into the dark together, gathering around beach fires and each other-until
the bell would ring again-calling us home.
There was something we needed, as we folded ourselves into sleeping bags
spread out over the deck.
So the bell is ringing now, and home is right here. Always-every Homecoming Sunday at Grace-I think
of what it means to come home. Go
home. What it means to hear that
bell. I realize that many, with sadness,
feel that they can't go home. And far too many in the world have no home at
all. Others are trying to get away from
home or feel trapped there. And yet . . . there remains within us a longing for "home,"
for a place where they want us; where there is food and shelter and story and
love. A place where every day they call
us back-and when we are ready, or most in need, we return.
Grace is meant to be that place. And often it is. Every Homecoming Sunday, every September, the
call goes out. Those of us who are here
stand on the porch and ring the bell for those of us who are on the road
somewhere. We watch with hope, or we
return with hope. "Let's go," we
say. "Here they come," we say. And we are home.
See you soon. This
Sunday, or another. There is a home
here, for us. And spread the word-the bell
rings and the door is wide open.