“Where are you from?”
For some of us, that is a loaded question. Quite often, I answer with the town I currently live in and then the next question comes: “Is that where you grew up?”
The fact is, as a preacher’s kid, I grew up in several places. Most have good memories associated with them. One, perhaps because of the age I happened to be when we moved, not such pleasant memories. None are exactly what I would call home. Home has tended to be wherever my family was. I lack the sort of rootedness that my husband and my own children grew up with.
The funny thing is, there is one place that I never lived yet seems to feel the most like home to me. That place is south-central Iowa. This is the area where my parents grew up and where most of my extended family still lives. It is the place my parents always referred to as “home” on our many trips back there.
It is a place where I have always felt welcome. Always.
From the time I was a very small girl until just last week when I was in Pella, I have always felt like these people – my grandmas and grandpas, my aunts, uncles, and cousins – are my people. They have known me my whole life. Not many others have. They are happy to see me and my family when we are able to drop by. In fact, they go out of their way to spend time with us, eat together, and talk together.
South-central Iowa is the place where I feel a connection beyond my immediate family. My people inhabit the various small towns around this area, teach in the schools, work in the factories and on the farms, and even rest in the graveyards, one of which offers a beautiful view of my grandfather’s farm. These connections becomes clear through the various casual conversations I had while I was in town.
‘Where are you from?’
‘Well, I never lived here but my family is from here…..’ And so the connections begin.
My roots are deep in rich Iowa farmland and I can feel that depth when I am here. And I love it.
Its funny, but I feel the same way when I walk into a Christian church. Maybe it is because church was the closest thing to an extended family that I had nearby while growing up. Or perhaps it is because the bloodline of Christ that connects us as Christians is richer and deeper than any physical connection, even the beautiful connection of a richly textured extended family in south central Iowa.