I’ve heard it said, “Once you leave it, you can’t go home again.” And it’s true.
As a child, I grew up on a few country acres populated with chickens, horses, cows, dogs, and a garden large enough to feed a neighborhood. My sister and I spent many a day playing in our homemade tree house perched atop a sturdy oak in the back pasture. That country house is where my mother homeschooled my sister and me all the way through high school graduation. It’s where my father taught me how to build a fence. It’s where I witnessed my only White Christmas, parked my first car, and learned to play guitar.
My parents still live in that house, but now the walls have changed colors and when I visit I sleep in a different room. Our old tree house has since fallen into disrepair, a remnant of what once was. It’s home, but it’s not. Despite having spent close to two decades there, I feel an impermanence that leaves me longing for something more.
I suspect you’ve felt it too. At a certain level, we are all marked by a similar sense of loss inflicted by the small, compounding deaths that come with growing up and moving on. No matter how hard we try, we cannot hold on forever. We lack permanence, which leaves us longing for a home we feel we’ve lost and to which we cannot seem to return.
In this month’s issue, we want to lean into that loss because we believe it points us to something whole. Though everyone experiences estrangement in one form or another, we’re convinced that it doesn’t have the final word.
To that end, we are featuring Jen Pollock Michel’s brand new book, Keeping Place: Reflections on the Meaning of Home. In it, she traces the theme of home across the narrative of scripture and demonstrates how it meets us with a message of hope today. She graciously took the time to give us a forthcoming Q&A, an excerpt from her book, and an exclusive “bonus track”—a piece from a chapter that didn’t make it into final publication because books have to end somwhere (coming the Monday after that). We also reviewed Keeping Place to offer an additional reader perspective and you can read that one right now.
In a featured piece of this issue, reflecting on the months following last year’s presidential election, Katelyn Beaty examines the current state of evangelicalism and appeals to the church to prioritize the gospel over politics.
As a companion piece, Diane McDougall takes a closer look at the 81% of white evangelicals who voted for now President Trump to better understand what that statistic means for us today.
In another one of our pieces, “Losing Home,” Jed Ostoich invites us into a moving portrayal of growing beyond the walls of his childhood home. How do we deal with the feelings of returning to a home we can no longer enter? How do we sift through the burden of residual memories growing distant with time?
And of course, we’ve got poetry, a short story, and Conduits of Conversation this time around.
We hope the writing in this month’s issue offers you an added hope for today and a glimpse of the home we will one day have with Christ. Until then, we will bear together the burden of longing knowing that soon it will expire. One day, we will have a place of permanence, one we can truly call home.
Thanks for reading.
Cover image by Toa Heftiba.