Saturday, April 5, 2008

Welcome Home

In my younger years, I used to go with my family to yearly gatherings called Rainbow Gatherings. Now, to the lay person who is unfamiliar with Rainbow ways, one would look from the outside and simply assume that it was one big hippie drug-fest. But there was something much deeper going on. You see, once a year for several weeks, people from all walks of life descend upon an agreed upon place to camp out and live in harmony. And I'm not just talking about a few families or even a few hundred families, but thousands upon thousands of people, ranging from white collar professionals to gypsies who haven't lived a conventional life in years, all gathering in one forest to build community. An entire village is built in a few weeks, resided in for a few more weeks, and then torn down and all the people go back to their normal lives. It really is quite remarkable.
The last one that I went to was in 1999 in Pennsylvania. I flew into New York to pick up a girlfriend and then we drove the rest of the way to Pennsylvania, and the closer you get to the site, the more the anticipation builds. For miles and miles away from the actual gathering site, you start to see more and more people who are headed there, and you recognize them immediately, you know them as brother and are bonded because you know that you are both headed for the same gathering, both desiring the same harmony, and that soon, you will both break bread together in a makeshift kitchen run by other brothers and sisters. You will work side by side, both pitching in to help run the village and see that it all comes together, that all are taken care of. It really is remarkable.
I can remember arriving to the parking area, after hours and hours of traveling, and stepping out of the van to be welcomed by a different air, one filled with incense and drum beats, music that just continues day and night. We would rush as much as possible to get our backpacks and gear unloaded and strapped on, to start the journey to the campsite, and the closer we got, the louder the music got, the faster our feet would move to be there. We were drawn to it all. And as you arrive to actual campsite, you are greeted by a huge banner that reads, "WELCOME HOME" and brothers and sisters saying things like, "We've been waiting for you. So glad you're home." Spirits are lifted, you know you belong. Feet move even faster to set up camp and get settled in. Welcome home.
And for several weeks over those summer months, thousands upon thousands of people would live in such community as I have never seen before, loving each other and watching out for each other. Food is a community event, where every mouth is fed and every person taken care of. People come with so many stories, hurts, joys, every sort of baggage that life deals, and somehow, for a few weeks out of the year, none of that stuff matters. All are welcome and all feel at home. It really is a remarkable thing.
I often dream of Heaven, and what it will be like when we get there. The images that are described in Scripture intrigue my heart so much that I just daydream about streets of gold and entering the Throne Room of Grace. I just wonder if it will be like going to the gatherings, where we are making the journey on the streets of gold and are drawn in by the new air that we breathe. The sounds of angels singing and the saints who have gone before us, filling the air and pulling us closer, quickening our steps so that we just cannot wait to be there. We walk faster and faster with the others who have arrived at the same time until we are all out running. And then to enter that precious throne room, to finally stand at the doorway where the Creator of the Universe reigns; I can only imagine of the backup of people who hesitate at the threshold, who are stunned by the glory that their eyes gaze upon, who are frozen in their steps as they finally behold what we now can only dream of. Maybe there are some who cannot help but fall on their face right there at the doorway, to finally behold the glory of the Lord who gave up everything, even His own life, so that they could be there, and to know in their hearts that it was all worth it after all. It's all going to be worth it. Everything that we do, all that we endure now, it's going to be worth it to finally arrive Home. Oh, to arrive at that point, to be at that place, where I will finally see my Savior face to face, to fall before Him in thanks, and to finally hear, "Welcome Home." Everything else fades away.

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