Home: wherever I lay my hat?

The guy in the bed opposite me has a ticket home. I’m quite jealous. You have to make sure you have all your ducks lined up in a row before they release you from hospital.  Medications, discharge letter, physio, person to give you a lift.

All the guys in our bay are longing for home. When we can sleep in our own bed, have a cuppa from our favourite mug, have access to more than one change of clothes.

In the 60s, Marvin Gaye wrote the song that says, “Wherever I lay my hat, that’s my home.” It was popularised by Paul Young’s remix in 1983. The words talk of a guy who will love ’em & leave ’em, who doesn’t really belong to anyone or anything, who is always roaming. But the truth is, home is the opposite to that idea. It is about a rootedness, a sense of belonging.

Now maybe a pop star off ‘living the dream’ doesn’t need a home. Or at least thinks he doesn’t. But belonging and rootedness is vital when life treats you a bit rough. When, for example, you are stuck in hospital with a heart condition. 

If you seriously have no home, the rootlessness can be overwhelming. We’ve recently closed Winter Shelters across Kent. Churches have generously opened their doors in towns across the county. In each town seven churches have opened one night a week, every night, for the winter months. I’ve spoken to some clients of these shelters who have lost homes. It might be because of relationship breakdown, or mental health or a number of other causes. But the sense of rootlessness, of not belonging to anybody or anywhere, is so strong. And so awful. I think it’s worse than the material difficulties people face in homelessness. 

Jesus said that he had no home. That foxes had holes & birds had nests, but that he had nowhere to call home. You can see that. Born in Bethlehem he had to flee to escape  King Herod who saw him as a threat. He grew up in the town of Narareth but the people there tried to throw him off a cliff for claiming to be the Son of God and he again had to leave. Then he went to stay in his best friend’s house for a while. Always a stranger, never at home. 

Or maybe Jesus was saying that his home was in heaven and he would never really be at peace here. The startling news is that he said this thing about his homelessness in response to someone saying ‘Jesus. I want to be your disciple.’ So he was saying all who want to follow him are also to be homeless.

Home is really important to me. The love of family is vital. But maybe Paul Young’s attitude is right for Christians too. Not that we’re roaming because of a fear of commitment, or because our human relationships have failed. More that heaven is our home. We are ambassadors of heaven, citizens of another country, rooted in God’s kingdom and holding lightly to the securities of this world. 

Maybe it’s not a question of one home or another. Maybe the more adventurous we get with God and his purposes, the more we can see the lasting value in our home securities. 

I love this quote from pioneer trans-Atlantic pilot, Amelia Earhart

The more one does and sees and feels, the more one is able to do, and the more genuine may be one’s appreciation of fundamental things like home, and love, and understanding companionship.

My home is first in heaven, second with family. I’m longing for my Ticket Home from hospital. But really I’m home already, with or without the comforts of 252 Dover Road.