The broiling air felt delicious after spending the morning in air conditioning. I sat in the shade of a grandfather oak in the backyard of a rental house. The Texas heat contained only trace amounts of humidity, so it felt as if a giant oven door tipped open. I relaxed in the Adirondack chair and studied trees in the yard and those in the vacant lot next door. I recognized them from living the first half of my life in Texas. A white wing dove whistled into the nearest tree and settled on a branch, murmuring to doves in the lot behind the fence. Nostalgia swirled around me as present as the Texas heat.
Scenes of my dad and grandfather at the family ranch bloomed in my mind. The men walked across the dusty road in their boots and jeans, and wore straw cowboy hats, normal headwear for summer cattle work. I smelled leather and dirt and Big Bill’s cigar. My watering eyes brought me back to the present.
Seeing the hackberry and pecan trees, hearing the coo of white wing doves and smelling the dryness of the dusty air, caused me to question. Would I move back to Texas if I could, after living the second half of my life in Florida? Would I return to the place where homes and businesses flew Texas flags next to American flags, and where auto shops, banks and restaurants included Lone Star or Texas in their titles? Did this degree of Texas pride indoctrinate me enough to leave Florida? Texas “statriotism” infuses her citizens to the extent that we even sing the state song alongside our university fight songs at football games and congressmen still threaten to vote to secede.
At a distance I see Texas’ flaws, her swank and loudness, but I can overlook those. Her strong pull of identity did not evaporate out of me when I moved away. Cattle, land, and vast spaces entwined with my formation, but as I considered whether I would move back, I decided Texas is not my home. The people I love in my memories aren’t there, and it’s people, specifically my husband in Florida, that make a location home.
Driving away from Texas toward Florida, reminds me of turning my face from this world to face my heavenly home, where Jesus and many of my ancestors live. My future resides there, and the longer I linger here, the more I realize I don’t belong nor want to remain. Heaven has become my true country.
The world, I can taste and touch without effort, but my heavenly home hides. Gathering with other believers assures me that this Other state is as real as Florida. Immersing myself in scripture wakes my senses to heaven which lives in me and will one day surround me. I feel the embrace of the heat of this world, and creation intrigues me, but these lures represent a tincture of the warmth and beauty of God in His kingdom.
As I reminisced in the backyard of the Texas rental, the heat drove me back indoors. In the same way, the emptiness of the present world and the hope of a better country drive me to my true home, despite my waffling to want to stay. My heavenly home with my Heavenly Father is where I belong.