I only have one house but there are several places that feel like home.
Over the holidays, I went back to the church where I spent 25 years as a member. At one time, I knew every person in that church. I knew the “unassigned” seating chart during services. Sunday, my mom was late getting down to the service from her class and I was so worried that we were going to sit in the wrong place.
After being gone for 15 years, I couldn’t help but notice that about half of the people were new. I still saw longtime friends and people who feel like family, but some others have died, moved to new churches and some to new cities.
One old friend was a former NFL player who endured multiple concussions during his college and professional football career. I had covered him as the editor of my hometown newspaper. That same newspaper had to cover the story when he was arrested for forging prescriptions for pain pills after he moved back home to try to recover from head and back injuries that ended his career. He went from high school state championship games to the Super Bowl to a county jail. He has since recovered and rebuilt his life and even helps coach local football teams. It was great to see him at church with his family intact and his life going well. That may be the biggest win of them all.
Then I ran into a young man who I got to know when I was covering baseball at the local university. He and his daughter had just moved back. He was telling me how he was in Denver raising his daughter on his own. One day, he thought about how that wasn’t where he wanted her raised. He thought back to his experiences in college and said, “That is where I want to raise my daughter.”
Every time we visit I can't help but think back to the history that small town church has. First Baptist Church in Chickasha, Okla. was once home to Rev. W.A. Criswell, a giant in the Southern Baptist denomination. Before he was a pastor at one of the first megachurches, it had also been a pastoral stop for Rev. David Hall. I loved doing a story with Pastor Hall for the newspaper. He told the story of when the state faced a horrible drought and he was invited to a service at the state capitol to pray for rain. He told me the story of how he chided those who came to pray for rain and didn’t bring their umbrellas.
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“If you don’t think prayer is going to work, why are you here?” he asked the crowd. It was a bit of a joke, but I still remember it often when I pray.
Life moves fast. We’re always busy and always tired, but sometimes you have to look back at those places that used to be home and realize how far the water that flows under the bridges - hopefully none of them are burned - has taken us.
Some of the photos on the wall at my parents’ house have been there three or four decades.
The five us are now a family of more than 30 people and with recent engagements, the water under the bridge keeps flowing and our family keeps growing.
I don’t guess there is really anything wrong with going back to the home that someone else made for you, but there is nothing like the home you have made for yourself. I like my little corner of the world.
Someday, my little corner of the world might be in another different place. Who knows? I never planned on moving to South Dakota, but here I am.
It was nice to be “back home” Sunday but I couldn’t help but think about all of the things I would have missed out on if I stayed there.
Home may be where the heart is but some of my heart is still in places that aren’t home anymore.
Kent Bush is the editor of the Rapid City Journal.