“Where are you from?”…it is a question I get asked relatively frequently. It is an easy answer, I proudly say I am from California- and in this political climate, living in Texas- I cling tightly to the foundations of social justice and equality that are at the roots of who I am. However, there is a question that gets to the heart of who I am, and it is one of my favorite questions to answer- “Where was home growing up?”
For many people, “home” is a feeling, or the house where they grew up. The idea of home can be complicated- a mix of emotions, nostalgia, and memories- and for many, home is polarizing. For me, when I am asked where I call home- I can answer McKinney, with my wife and dogs….but when asked about my home growing up- my answer is immediate and almost involuntary- I answer “Valley Presbyterian Church.”
Now, I am clear, this response will illicit and eye roll from a lot of folks because the church, just like the idea of home, can be deeply complicated.
But Valley Presbyterian is my home. It is the village that raised me. It is a place that is in my DNA, and that I make sure to visit every single time I go back to the Bay Area. The faces have changed, many cornerstones of my upbringing have died, and new members and new leadership have arrived. I have been gone from the Bay Area for almost 14 years- which feels unbelievable- but when I step foot on the soil of Valley Presbyterian, I am home.
A few weeks ago, I received an invitation to join in the celebration of 60 years of ministry at Valley Presbyterian. When I opened it, I was struck by it’s simplicity, but also how profoundly it felt like they had just mailed a piece of home to me.
As this invitation sits in our room, I find myself thinking about it over and over again, and I have found myself pondering the idea of planting seeds. 60 years of ministry started with friends making a decision to start a church. Through times of celebration, abundance, and in times of pain, transition, and confusion- this church has grown into a healthy, thriving place that teaches the importance of love, service, community, and inclusion. This place, that saw leadership potential in me, and fostered me under the shade of the mighty redwood grove- this place I, and so many others, call home- it started with an idea and a single decision. To say I am grateful for the seed planted 60 years ago is an understatement.
And while I am thinking of the past, I am also thinking of the future. What seeds were planted in me in my upbringing at Valley Presbyterian? What seeds have been sewn with hope, and what seeds do I need to nurture so that they will flourish in the spirit and intention with which they were planted? I also wonder what seeds I have planted that are growing, and not yet fully realized- and I wonder what God is calling me to plant. What seeds is God urging me to plant, and where?
I get to go and celebrate the amazing things that have come as a result of the decision to plant a seed 60 years ago, and I cannot wait. I can’t wait to celebrate the past, but I also look forward to learning about what plans are in place for the future. And I am excited to be among the tall trees that remind me of who I am, and Who I belong to- my prayer is that the time will be one of discernment and refocusing- and may I come back home to Texas with new hopes of seeds planted and yet to be planted…