You may have read a version of this story before, but what can I say … It was one of those defining moments in my life.
It was the time I stumbled and fell over an innocent, four-worded question.
To her credit, she waited until I had stowed my carry-on in the overhead compartment and settled into my seat before she launched into the obligatory small-talk.
We were, after all, about to spend twelve hours with our elbows touching, and I’d never even met the fifty-something woman who had scored the aisle seat next to me.
“Are you heading home?” she asked.
And that’s where I tripped over my tongue.
I hesitated. A little too long.
Then finally, “Um … yeah. Well, no. Uh … I’m not sure.”
I wouldn’t have blamed her if she’d flagged down the flight attendant right then and there. I can picture the hypothetical conversation now: “Um, excuse me, miss, but this girl doesn’t know where she’s going.”
“My mom died this morning,” I blurted out, the aircraft still grounded on the Cape Town runway.
The kind woman gushed condolences and well-intentioned words of sympathy before I could attempt to redeem my earlier fumble.
“I’ve been living in Africa for the past eight years and my mom just died in my hometown in MIchigan. So, I guess I’m heading home. But not really. I mean, my husband and kids are still here in Cape Town, so …”
My voice drifted, and I realized the answer to her original question hadn’t become any clearer for either of us.
Was I heading home? Or not?
The conflicting voices of my heart kickstarted a long-lasting soul search.
Where was my home?
That conversation happened three years ago.
In the meantime, I’ve thought and even written a lot about the concept of home.
And what I’ve come to learn is this:
This is not it.
This life, this living in between, this sojourn … it’s all temporary.
And there is an eternal.
Ever since my mom died and I’ve started thinking a whole lot more about heaven, I’ve made a more conscious effort in my thinking, my praying, my writing, my parenting — to remember that every day is one step closer to eternity.
And hopefully the next time I step onto a plane and get asked the same question, “Are you heading home?” … I’ll be able to answer with confidence, “Yes. Yes, I am.”
Not because of my earthly destination, but because of my hope in eternity.
Aren’t they so great?!
And the coolest part is that you can click over to this interactive interface and build whatever word you want, then share it on social media.
What word would you choose?
ALSO (!!!) … This weekend (October 2nd-7th) I’ll be hosting a giveaway right here on this blog for one winner to receive a voucher for these beautiful Letterpress Blocks.
So come back to visit and enter for a chance to win!! (In fact, enter your e-mail address in the sidebar above and the giveaway announcement will come straight to your inbox! What more could you ask for?) 😉
See you all this weekend, and until then, remember: Words Matter.
READ CHAPTER 1 NOW:
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