Should we have stayed at home and thought of here?
Where should we be today? ...
Oh, must we dream our dreams
and have them too?
Her poem captures the moment in the middle of a journey when we find ourselves thinking (perhaps longingly or guiltily) of home. Is it better for us to be here, or there? The poem concludes:
Continent, city, country, society:
the choice is never wide and never free.
And here, or there ... No. Should we
have stayed at home,
Wherever that may be?
The Israelites were in such a moment in our reading from Exodus this week. They had traveled far into the wilderness after leaving Egypt, and they complained against Moses and Aaron because of their hunger. “If only we had stayed in Egypt and ate our fill,” they said, but instead they feared they would die of hunger in the wilderness. God heard their complaining and sent them food-the manna in the wilderness.
God’s generosity, no matter where we are in our journey, no matter how long or short our “labor in the vineyard” has been, is the subject of the Gospel for this Sunday. To the workers who grumbled against the generous landowner (God) in this parable, came this reply: “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?” Jesus concluded, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
At certain points along our journeys in life, we all find ourselves in some low or lonely moment in the wilderness-questioning the wisdom of our choices, questioning God’s love and care for us, living with fear and anxiety, wondering what “home” might be for us. The testimony of scripture and our experience living together in Christian community offer this answer to our complaining: we find our true home in being ourselves as God’s loved children, and in our traveling, even in lonely wilderness places, God loves us and provides for us.
What follows is a quotation from Maya Angelou, in a 1973 PBS interview with Bill Moyers. I think it captures the courageousness and the beauty of the journey God calls us to take together. “You are only free when you realize you belong no place-you belong every place-no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”