I recognize, of course, that it has been some time since my last blog post. Maybe you could say I took a summer break, maybe you could say I ran out of ideas, maybe you could say I just got busy (or you could say that I forgot about it for awhile and never got started back up again.)
Regardless of the circumstance of my hiatus, I am back, and with a passion.
You see, this week, I left my home.
Not in the dramatic fashion I’d always hoped it to be, though. I’m one of those diehard romantics that can’t help but entertain the thought of running away from home in my highschool years, backpacking and hitchhiking my way across these vast United States of Themerica, and ending up in Alaska, where I would reside beside a lake surrounded by mountains, dwelling in my humble log cabin with my pet Polar Bear and a practically limitless supply of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
A trek of 3,866 miles.
I didn’t get very far.
119 miles. That’s 0.03% of the necessary distance.
And now, here I am…
For those of you who don’t actually know me, I have entered the Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary and am discerning my possible vocation as a Roman Catholic priest for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
It is the first time I have ever been away from home for longer than a week.
And I have been quite homesick.
But out of my suffering, it appears the Lord has worked in His usual, mysterious way. In my prayer, desolate though it was at the beginning, I came to this remarkable conclusion.
My grandfather moved from Lima, Peru to come to the United States to work as a physician. Initially, he had not intended on staying. That was in 1961.
Having just married my grandmother weeks earlier, my grandfather left everything he knew in his home to come here. He had to accustom himself to a different culture, a different language, a different climate. Nothing felt the same, sounded the same, tasted the same, or was the same. My grandmother did not join him until another six months had passed. Aside of my great uncle, with whom my grandfather lived, he was alone.
But he stayed. He endured.
And his endeavor resulted in the birth of two of my aunts, an uncle, and my mother. By that time, he had bills to pay, and a family to care for. He could not leave. That was all by 1970.
Somewhere in that time, my grandfather had returned to Peru but once, to visit his father. My grandfather knew that would be the last time he would ever see him.One year later, he died.
Finally, in 1978, my grandfather, having lived as a legal resident for 17 years, became a citizen of the United States of America.
Several years later, my mother met my father, and for some strange reason, she decided to marry him.
And several years after that, five to be exact, their life was made complete with the birth of their third and most consistently difficult child (also, the most proud and likely to write a blog post such as this.)
So, you see, I am the result of destiny.
My grandfather never had to stay in Cincinnati. He could’ve returned to his home anytime he wanted to.
My mother never had to marry my father. She could’ve remained home awhile longer.
And I, myself, never had to come here. I could’ve gone to school back home in Cincinnati. And even now, I do not have to stay here.
But, I owe my existence to the fact that God made man and made man to endeavor and endure the sufferings that come only as blessings in disguise. I owe my existence to a brave, young Peruvian who loved his family too much to leave them and, as a result, brought about the chain reaction that would end in my birth.
And in that thought, I am comforted.
To know that God always has been watching over me, even before I was a thought in any mind but His, and to know that He will always watch over me until the end of days, and to know that He has blessed me with as strong a man as my grandfather and my father and my grandmother and my mother and all of my family who I know will always be here to do the work of His hands, His will…and in that, I am comforted.
So, you see, I year only for the material home I once knew. The home where I can rely on the weatherman to disappoint and the sports teams to do so even more. The home whose roads I know so well, whose every hill and river bring fond memories. The home where a mixture of Skyline chili and Graeter’s ice cream makes up the aroma that fills the Queen City air.
But is that really what home is? A location?
It’s something more. Much, much more than that. I guess I can’t explain it; I’m only beginning to find out for myself.
But, I think it has something to do not with what we leave behind, but what we take with us. Whether that’s the baby blanket your aunt made for you, or the stuffed cow your grandmother bought you, or the original Skyline 3-Way plate your grandparents gave you, or a hair scrunchy your mother left in your dorm room on accident.
It’s these people who embody the acts of love that give me life that make my home.
“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”