By Michael Gallup
I’m not sure why everytime I think of home, I feel compelled to describe the Spanish Moss-draped oak trees. I feel the need to become rather verbose and compare the moss to trapped spirits of the men and women damned to never leave the lowcountry (I could think of worse fates). But simply put, nothing speaks of the area like the oaks. These ancient giants with their gnarly knotted elbows meandering to and fro are the epitome of the grandeur and history that so defines the lowcountry of South Carolina. They belong to a rare group of items like the mountains of Colorado and the sea, that no matter how many times you see them they still inspire awe.
As a kid they held a certain mystery for me, that if they could talk, God himself would pull up a seat to listen. Yet they also had a laziness about them. The oaks have the appearance of the rivers they surround, a fluidty that can be rather mesmerizing. When they have reached the grandfather stage of life, their limbs will rest on the ground much like a cane. But most of all, I must speak of them because they are home, as much as mom is even.
Yet, I have been cut off from that land, somewhat by choice and somewhat by force. And this saddens me because my blood has a brown tint to it thanks to those muddy rivers that these oaks line. I know worthless tidbits of history about the plantations that inhabited the land before me, but it is not my home anymore and I wonder if it ever truly was.
Even though I was born on the banks of the black river in Georgetown much like my father before me, I always felt a stranger. My great-granddad wasn’t a rebel and I’d lie straight through my teeth about the fact the my Grandfather was from Pennslyvania. If anyone ever discovered that fact, I’d quickly remind them my mom was from Arkansas. Yet I lived in a place where my friends last names matched those of the plantations and even though this heritage wasn’t always flaunted, I was always on the outside looking in.
Home is a funny place. The cliché is that it is where the heart is, but that is too vague for my sensibilities. I need a place to call home and I think that I am not alone in this quest, that one way to describe our existence is that it is a search for place, for home. The religious thing to say is that God or heaven is our homes and that is not far from the truth as I can see it.
When I think of home, I think of mom and our gardens and a tree. Is it fair to guess that those things stick out because deep in all of us is a longing for a Father, a garden and a tree; a longing for a place that though we may stare into it for eternity it will never cease to inspire awe?
Michael is a student at Denver Seminary who’s greatest accomplishment in life was marrying way up to his beautiful wife Michala, the Director of Children’s Ministry at The Neighborhood Church. Michael has a blog called a A Sprig of Hope where he shares devotional thoughts on life, short stories, poetry, prayers, and anything that grabs his short attention span.