I never imagined how quickly this would feel like home. It has only been two weeks, but I have completely settled into my Summit Semester environment and schedule. The tree speckled mountains invite me to explore their vast wilderness. The lodge we stay in is situated in a shallow valley with mountains on all sides. They give me an opportunity to reflect on the wonders of God. I could not imagine a better location for my Semester home. I relate to the poet who proclaimed,“My hearts in the highlands, my heart is not here.” I grew up in the Midwest far from any sort of mountains or high places. My soul has always found rest in the mountains and I have always wanted to dwell in them. The location as well as the relaxing atmosphere has provided me with a sense of home. Claire, my amazing room-mate, and I have become like sisters in the last couple weeks. The other students are becoming like siblings as well. During every meal we eat family style and have family meetings on Tuesdays where Dustin discusses with us how the following week will look. My summit family and I even danced the Virginia Reel one night while four of the guys played live music. The joy was intoxicating and filled the mountains with laugher. Although it will only last a season, for this time it fills its purpose of being my dwelling. Over the last few days I have been wrestling with an important question. What is home? Is it a place where we feel safe and comfortable? Is it a person or group of people who make you feel loved? Dr. Bauman, one of our professors, often reminds us, “Don’t tell me how you feel, tell me what you think.” I would agree with him. Home isn’t what you feel, it is grander than your feelings. If home were simply how you felt about someone or something it wouldn’t be permanent. It would be fleeting and, as Solomon would say, a chasing after the wind. If home was simply a place and a feeling the second you did not feel safe it would cease to be your home. If your home was stored in people the moment they were missing from you would become homeless. In reality, people die, they move on, and they stop caring. There is nothing you can do about it, they are human and that is life.
I believe the definition of home is a constant. It isn’t something felt, rather it exists. Home cannot be embodied in people or buildings. Home is something to be discovered, something to yearn for. Hebrews 11 talks about the faith of our forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the prophets. They didn’t spend their lives focused on this world or their transitory life. Hebrews 11:8-10 Speaks of Abraham’s residence on earth, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out of a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of the promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him in the same promise. For he was looking forward to a city whose architect and builder is God.” And again in verse 16, “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” Our home isn’t located on this earth, as Christians our residence is in heaven. Dr. Bauman spent some time discussing with us the ideas of the Middle Ages. They believed that everything has the desire to return home. Rocks, for example, fall to the ground because they came from the earth. We are held on the ground because we are made of dust. Even though we know that gravity causes things to fall to the earth, the Medieval’s viewpoint makes logical sense. They believed the same thing about souls. When a person dies, his soul goes home to God because that is where they came from. Whether this is why or not, we know for certain that the Lord is preparing a place for us in heaven (John 14:1-4). C.S.Lewis once stated, “If I find myself with a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” We have in us a desire for home but nothing in this world can truly be our home because nothing in this world is constant. We can never arrive home or fully comprehend home until we get there.
At the beginning I mentioned how Summit Semester feels like home, but how can I say that if home cannot be found on this earth? I can say that because we are given a broken image of what the future looks like. Everything on earth is flawed in comparison to the glory and perfection of heaven. The buildings on this earth may for a fleeting moment have similarities of our heavenly home, but they were built by men and not by God. My Summit siblings will always be my brothers and sisters, but they will not be my home. One day in paradise we will be a perfect brotherhood of believers and siblings in Christ but, for now, we have the opportunity to experience a flashing image of what the future will look like. Tolkien rightly says, “Not all those who wander are lost.” I may be a wanderer for my time here on this earth but I will always know my residence is in heaven. My life here has so far been wonderful. I have been able to sharpen the way I think about the world in such a short time. I am looking forward to my next couple months here. Even more I am looking ahead to my heavenly home. A home of perfection with God as my father. The only real home I will ever experience.
Elizabeth Tomaszewski is joining the Summit Semester crew from the great state of Illinois. Art and interacting with others are some of her passions. The chance to stretch her mental capabilities is part of what brings Elizabeth to Summit Semester. When Elizabeth has some free time, you’ll probably find her putting together words in ways that contain both beauty and meaning. Alternately, you might find her making music or honing her understanding of another language.