Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes but when you look back everything is different? (from Prince Caspian by C S Lewis)
Today I was thinking about the song “Flies on the Butter” by Wynona Judd. You may not know it if you weren’t listening to country music, oh, about 6 or 7 years ago. But it’s a beautiful and deeply nostalgic song that shares a series of favorite childhood memories interspersed with a chorus that says, “Doesn’t seem like it was all that long ago . . . You can dream about it every now and then, but you can’t go home again.” The suggestion is that “home” isn’t a geographical location that a person can come and go from at will, but rather a particular set of relationships and experiences that are associated with that location. Those relationships change for various reasons, and those experiences pass into memory and can’t be redone. That’s what we can’t go back to. We can’t recreate what “home” was when we were young or when we left it, and the glacial passage of time slowly recarves the landscape of our lives so that what was never matches what is or what will be. But somehow, it’s only in moments of reflective retrospection that the changes become apparent. It’s only when we try to find home that we discover the place reconfigured.
I have been visiting home for a couple of weeks now, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of my time here. But I’ve also been aware of the ways that the landscape of home is different now. Of how things and people have changed and shifted. Of how I have changed and shifted. Of how I am out of sync with this place. So little has changed in my short time away, and yet, somehow, everything is different. Change is hard, but I think there’s something deeply beautiful in the way that the world around us is in a constant state of re-creation. And I think it’s a mercy that change often goes unnoticed day to day, because who could bear to always feel the world changing around them?