A couple of years ago my family and I were fortunate enough to be able to travel out West. I can not begin to describe the sites that we beheld. We stayed on the road for a couple of weeks and were constantly amazed at the beauty we saw. Then came that time of dread when we all knew we had to go home. The problem with driving a great distance is that you must do it again to get back where you belong. We left out of Denver headed east on I70 knowing that we had to leave all of this splendor behind. I had never been through Kansas before so I thought that it would be something else to add to our experience. I found that, as lovely a place as it is, Kansas looks pretty much the same all the way through. We did, however, grow hungry while we traversed the state and decided to get off the interstate to grab a bite. We found a small, farming town that looked just like the rest we had passed through. I do not even remember the name. There was, as often is the case, a small diner that was surrounded by pick up trucks and maybe even a tractor or two. I had no recommendation to go on but I have always found that if you see a place where working folks are gathered to feed themselves then you should join them. We walked in the place, my family and I, as travelers and thus strangers to these locals. The place felt familiar but I could also feel the going over that we received as we entered. You see, we saw this as just another town but these people knew it to be home. We were the unfamiliar there, representing change, if only for a moment. I told you that I do not remember the name of the town. That is because it did not matter to me. Those people there, and all across this country in towns just like it, know the names of their towns. It is entangled in their hearts like honeysuckle.
When I was a young man I grew restless in the small place I grew up in. I knew that passed the city limit sign a big ole world awaited. I did not understand our basic need for what is familiar. There is a peace that comes with seeing faces you know, even if it has been years since you saw them. I love to travel and see new things. I think that is permissible even for a backwards fellow like me. I have seen different cultures and people and I knew, as they did , that we were different. That is ok too. There is always in the back of my mind the thought that I must soon get back to that which I am acquainted. Change is inevitable, we know, but there is peace in that place we call home. Things seem as they ought to be in the small town, no matter how the rest of the world sees it. I think that in the end we all need to belong to something. We all desire something precious to hold on to. That’s why when we come back across the state line, then the county line and finally the city limit sign goes by we feel that sense of calm pass over. In our minds it will never change. It is home and that is where we belong. That is where you find the stuff that we are made of and no matter where we go, we never forget the name of our small town.