Homes: A Week of Travel and Being Home

Midland, TX - Near the Airport

I have been thinking more about the idea of space-time from my last post, particularly the space (place) part of it. I live in Dallas now. A place that I dearly love, partly because both of my kids live here, but also because of the trees and beautiful, colorful plants that are a part of life in this place. My house is surrounded by them. Stepping out onto my deck, I often pause for prayer and to take in the beauty of my surroundings. I feel blessed by such beauty and often sense God’s presence in my Dallas garden.

This week I was scheduled for several meetings in West Texas and SE New Mexico. For those unfamiliar with this place, I believe the best description might be ‘absolutely nothing like Dallas’. This is an area that I am very familiar with because before Dallas, I lived in West Texas for 27 years.

Stepping out of the air terminal in Midland, an immediate feeling of being home settled over me. I was a little taken aback by the strength of the pull this place still has on my heart. As you can see from my picture, on the surface this space doesn’t have much to recommend it. Barren. Dusty. Unchanging – you can drive for miles (and miles!) and the view doesn’t change.  But in spite of first impressions, the West Texas terrain for me, as one who has lived it, is a place of beauty. The first thing you notice is the sky (no pesky trees, hills, tall buildings, etc to block your view). It is blue and expansive. The spaces out here are uncluttered and wide open.

While in the area, I had the pleasure of a quick (our schedules weren’t cooperating!) visit with a dear friend who has been undergoing treatment for breast cancer for the last few months. Walking into her den and giving her a big hug, I was once again overcome by an incredible sense of being home in her home. Knowing our visit was to be short, I was particularly keen to soak in every moment of our time together. We did not waste a moment of that visit!

I hit the road for SE New Mexico and a remote gas processing plant. The plant is so remote that for the last 15 miles of the drive the GPS showed me driving in the middle of a field! My cell phone works very sporadically in this area and not at all in the vicinity of the plant. In spite of the remoteness, a group of 15 of us slowly began to arrive from all directions. Once assembled, the meeting began. Here again, I was struck with an incredible sense of being home. Over the years, I have spent so much time in many similar locations. I  am very comfortable in sparse the settings of the oil & gas industry. The group of us was crammed around a fold out table, sitting on folding chairs in a small trailer which is the office/workspace for the plant. I was, of course, the only female in the meeting which is the norm for me. There were several new young engineers in the mix, and the rest were folks I have been working projects with for the last 20 plus years. It was amazing how at home I felt in this environment. It felt like a holy time and holy space.

God has been tugging on my heart strings this week – the lesson for the week is HOME. I have always thought of my self as a bit of a nomad – a person without a real home. When people ask, “where did you grow up?” or “where are you from?” I don’t have an easy answer. My father was in the Air Force, so my growing up was split between the mid-west, Texas and even Europe. I never really knew how to answer the question properly. Sometimes because of my Irish roots (Donavan), I would just claim Ireland as my home – even though I have never actually been there! The importance of place is so strongly a part of Celtic culture, it just seemed right somehow. This week I have come to realize that I am not a person of no home, but a person of many homes.

My Backyard Garden - Dallas

What my homes have in common is that they are places where I have put down roots, places that welcome me and places that I feel ‘kick-off my shoes’ comfortable in.  Safe places with family, friends, or colleagues who are glad to see me when I show up! These are the holy landscapes of my life – sacramental spaces & times where I encounter the Holy Creator of the universe.

And this week, I remembered to give myself the gift of pausing to take it all in. It was a balm for my soul during an incredibly busy week.

And yes, landing at Love Field and heading up the Dallas North Tollway. I was home again, but then I never really left home, did I?

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