I’m a blessed guy. I have a great family and an adventurous life. A huge part of my daily life is being the Founder and President of a company called Rebel Pilgrim, the parent company of Rebel Storytellers.
The phrase “rebel pilgrim” came out of a time in my life about fifteen ago when I was looking for a simple way to express my emerging worldview. The “rebel” part of it stems from the idea that we as a people are, in fact, rebelling against the “normal” order of the world. We are revolutionaries, often standing against very popular and seemingly good ideals that make the world “work” better. In fact, we rebel against many perfectly sane and practical ideals because of our conviction that the created world is moving toward full redemption. We rebel because we do not settle for sane and practical when “thy Kingdom come” is still on the table.
But this post isn’t really about being rebels, but about being pilgrims. We are the people of the journey—wanderers with a destination in mind. I’ve been reflecting on this as I prepare the script for our next live show—Genesis at The Aronoff Center in Cincinnati on Nov. 22. The journey—our journey—began in the “Garden,” a place of true oneness with God and each other. The Garden holds the “Tree of Life.” The Garden represents our eternal perfect home. Since the beginning, we—humankind—have been cursed, it would seem, to wander without a home in desperate isolation. This is the story of Genesis—a band of wounded wanderers seeking a return to that which is unattainable in whole but available in part.
All of this creates an interesting understanding of the idea of “home.” I believe that our true, forever home is to come, yet there are tastes of home here and now. We build our home with God as we go. Our pilgrimage itself is our home. We are a pilgrim people. Launched from the Garden into the desert with our eyes on a future City. The truth is that human beings are most at home when walking toward a better future together. It’s paradoxical … but we are at home only as we journey and long for the unseen, better home on the horizon.
Personally, I want to have a home here and now—to settle—to turn my Tabernacle into a stone building, but I cannot afford such temptations because I am part of a pilgrimage.
Sometimes I will say that Las Vegas is home because I lived there longer than I’ve lived anywhere as an adult. I recently wrote on this blog about how much I miss Las Vegas. Every street, almost every building, holds a memory from ten years of life lived in one city. Many of my best friends are there. Many of my most precious memories are there. My children were born there.
When I visit Las Vegas now I am often ambushed by sentimentality. I grow sad when I realize that it isn’t exactly home anymore. To be honest, maybe it never was. Maybe rebel pilgrims don’t have homes the way others do. The “home” that I desire Las Vegas to be is too lofty of a thing to ask of any city. Cincinnati is home now … and it isn’t. It is as much home as Las Vegas was from 1995-2005, or as Southern California was for a few years. It’s as much home as Columbus was in high school or Russell, Kentucky was when I was a little kid. All of these places are my homes, but the “now” is not there—my old “now” I mean. The old “now” has passed. The truth is, the closest we ever get to a real home is where we are right “now.”
Cincinnati is home now, but I cannot settle here any more than I can settle anywhere else. Home is where (and when) Perfection comes. At times, Perfection comes in part and those are the times I taste my future home like a delicious morsel of a future feast. But the entire meal is coming—it has been coming since we fled the Garden and it comes closer every day. As the John of Revelation says,
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” –Revelation 21:1-3
That ancient text goes onto say that the Tree of Life from the Garden awaits our arrival in our future home. This is the promise of the Christian Scriptures. That what we lost in the Garden is that which we seek in the City of God—our forever home. And, if you can believe it, we are already home now … just not entirely quite yet. Every pilgrim step takes us closer.
Photo (Flickr CC) by Kool Cats Photography