When I was in college in Indiana, I would sometimes come back home to Georgia on an airplane. The first such trip was right before Thanksgiving in the fall of 1992. I hadn’t been home since I left in early August, and although I loved college, I was also homesick—for a hot bath in a clean house, a hot meal cooked by my mom, and a hot date with my far-away, long distance boyfriend. As the plane descended over Atlanta, I first saw the pine trees, green towers dotting the foothills and then the city, and even before my feet touched the ground, I was instantly transported back to this place I loved.
Early April is a beautiful time to be home. The cherry blossoms and dogwoods are blooming, and I noticed little buds peeping out on all the other trees. Lawn mowers are beginning to buzz, and a few people have begun pressure washing their driveways and decks. Life is exploding all around us, and this week, we get to appreciate it. All of it.
In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Scarecrow couldn’t understand why Dorothy would want to go back to a place that was dry and gray. He didn’t understand the places we love are never really about the places themselves. They are always about the people. Dorothy could overlook the deficiencies in Kansas because as they say “love covers over a multitude of sins,” be they agricultural or otherwise. (In Georgia this week, I’m overlooking the billowing clouds of yellow pollen swirling around me.)
Dorothy: Oh, will you help me? Can you help me?
Glinda: You don't need to be helped any longer. You've always had the power to go back to Kansas.
Dorothy: I have?
Scarecrow: Then why didn't you tell her before?
Glinda: She wouldn't have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.
Scarecrow: What have you learned, Dorothy?
Dorothy: Well, I—I think that it, that it wasn't enough just to want to see Uncle Henry and Auntie Em — and it's that — if I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with! Is that right?
Glinda: That's all it is!
Scarecrow: But that's so easy! I should've thought of it for you -
Tin Man: I should have felt it in my heart -
Glinda: No, she had to find it out for herself. Now those magic slippers will take you home in two seconds!
Dorothy: Oh! Toto too?
Glinda: Toto too.
Glinda: Whenever you wish.
Glinda: Then close your eyes and tap your heels together three times. And think to yourself, 'There's no place like home'.
It seems too easy, doesn’t it? Like the thing we really want couldn’t possibly be right in front of us. But what if it is? What if your peaceful, purposeful life is right here?
We live in an amazing time in history, in a world that’s more connected than it’s ever been before. I can talk to my sister-in-law in China instantly any time I want. And for free! My teenage son is in California (without parents!), but I can track him on my iPhone, and my husband is getting his doctorate in Ministry (he’s such a smarty pants!) right from his office desk.
It’s fun to go away and see new things. Truly, there is no substitute for experience, but never for one second think that your heart’s desire must be somewhere out there. It might be right in your own backyard.