Beyond the sunset


"I've got a home in Glory Land that outshines the sun".

We used to sing this chorus at youth fellowship too many years ago. In those days, most choruses were sung with a Country and Western beat. We must have thought we were all little cowboys or something. Still, in the 50's and 60's the American West was holy ground. At any rate, we sang of a home beyond the blue horizon.

My most treasured 78 record is a spiritual called "Beyond the sunset." It speaks of a "glad reunion, with our dear loved ones who've gone before. In that fair home-land we'll know no parting, Beyond the sunset forever more." A heavenly home, a special place to make our home.

A sense of "place" is a very strong human emotion. We all know what it's like to sell a family home. It's a gut-wrenching experience which only serves to remind us of the power of place. It's a loss of here I am and is by no means easy to deal with. All of us reinforce our identity by our association with a place. We use our place, our country, to proclaim ourselves to others, and probably even to ourselves; it establishes identity and promotes self-image. Our home does this more than anything else.

Yet, there is more to a home than just peacock feathers, more than just display. There is the power of place. There is a sense where we root our being in the building and the earth. It is our nest and territory. It becomes part of us while becoming an expression of us. To see it destroyed is to see part of ourselves die; to leave it, is to abandon part of self. This is particularly so if we have raised children in it. So, place, home, country, is never quite an inanimate object.

In the end, we know, only too well, that our earthly home is not permanent; we are just passing through.

    "Beyond the sunset a hand will guide me

    To God the Father, whom I adore;

    His glorious presence, his word of welcome,

    Will be my portion on that fair shore."