Photo:WFAE commentator Gus Succop.
Thomas Wolfe famously wrote that you can never go home again. I disagree. "Going home" is both possible and necessary. Every autumn homecomings are planned at colleges, high schools and churches, and every fall alumni, families and friends do whatever is necessary in order to go home.
No two homecomings are ever the same. Time and diet have a way of creating an element of surprise. Sooner or later, we do stumble over names and confuse faces. But, what never changes is the opportunity to remember. What I find far more compelling about homecomings is the opportunity to be reminded of whom we should be.
Without fail, there is always someone at a homecoming who refuses to forget. They always remember when we had hair and a 28 inch waist. They always remember when we told the joke that should not have been told. They always remember the girl or boy we dated the night the car supposedly broke down. And, they always remember our dream of becoming someone famous -- the astronaut, the surgeon, the preacher or even the president of the United States.
In someone's mind and memory, you and I never grow old much less dull. They always remember us back when. And yet, a certain honesty pervades most homecomings. Not only are we allowed for a moment to recall the person we once were, but a homecoming may also hold for us a glimpse of whom we should be.
What a homecoming may offer is a reminder that change is possible, that if we have become someone we never intended to be, perhaps now's the time to become the person we ought to be. In that respect, homecomings are a good thing. They help us recall the person we should have become, no matter the current waist size or even the trophies.
Going home doesn't have to mean going back in time. Going home can also provide an opportunity to begin again.
Commentator Gus Succop is pastor at Quail Hollow Presbyterian Church.