When I was a child growing up as a stranger in rural West Central Florida, one of the songs I learned that I felt rather strongly about was a curious song called “The Boll Weevil Song.” This particular song gives a moving story about a refugee insect “just looking for a home” who faces some rather humorous struggles in finding a place to live that is comfortable for it and that does not ruin the livelihood on the small farmers it encounters . Here the insect, which in reality was immensely damaging for poor sharecroppers of cotton in desperate circumstances themselves, was portrayed as being reasonable if somewhat of a vagabond. For a variety of reasons, including a certain degree of empathy for the underdog , I was able to relate to the longing of the little boll weevil for a home.
As it happens, I grew up as an outsider. I was born to a farming and bus driving family in Western Pennsylvania that was highly suspicious of outsiders. At the age of three, I was taken by my mother to live with her parents in Florida, where I grew up as an outsider, since I did not talk or have the same worldview or interests or behavior as my neighbors. In an area that had strong anti-intellectual biases and the residual effects of generations of official racism, the fact that I regularly befriended the children of migrant farmers and other minorities and was a bookish and intellectual youngster from a broken home early established me in the eyes of my neighbors and fellow brethren at church as being an outsider of a particularly threatening kind, despite the fact that I was merely a friendly and quirky child with no particular motive or intent to harm anyone, just a desire to fulfill my own rather intense and frustrated longings.
Little has changed in the thirty years since then. My longings for an honorable place where my talents and personality can serve others and not be a total disaster for myself, for places to feel at home and relaxed rather than anxious and stressed out, for loving and warm and understanding friends and family, for an affectionate and loving wife and children, for a job where I receive a great deal of respect and regard and remuneration are rather consistent longings and I do not consider them necessarily unreasonable. Yet though I have made some progress in some of those areas (a certain amount of respect for education and intellectual prowess, as well as a cadre of understanding friends who have helped deliver me from difficulties and provided encouragement through the rather long-lasting struggles and trials I have had to face over the course of my life), there are some areas where progress has been limited or even nonexistent. My longings for love and belonging remain rather intense and frustrated.
In some ways, of course, we can never be home in this world. Our longings are of such a nature that if we are genuine to ourselves, we will recognize that they cannot be fulfilled by imperfect people in a world full of sorrow and loss where all things will pass away in time. As the author of Hebrews says in Hebrews 11:13-16: “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things  declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” I once gave a sermon on precisely this topic  at a refugee camp in Thailand, realizing that the people to whom I spoke were clearly estranged from their own homeland and country, as I was. It added a certain poignant irony to the message.
At times, though, I wonder if I have within me the capacity to recognize home in those small and tender moments where it manifests himself. Do I have the ability to recognize a loving congregation or a loving woman when I see it, and to know that at least some aspects of that longing can be fulfilled? Do I have the ability to recognize when I am respected, and when I have an honored place where I can make a decent living being myself and doing what I do best with my critical but loyal personality? How can I remain content in the meantime knowing I am a stranger but not letting that stop my desire to help and encourage those who are around me wherever I may happen to be at the time, knowing that nothing in my life has been very permanent but not letting that make me too cynical and bitter about such matters either? These are questions I wrestle with often. I suppose I will know home when I see it, whenever that is. In the meantime, I just have to do the best I can as a stranger and a pilgrim on the face of an unfriendly earth.
 See, for example, the lyrics:
“Oh, the boll weevil is a little black bug
Come from Mexico they say
Well he come all the way to Texas
Just a-lookin for a place to stay
He was lookin’ for a home,
Just lookin’ for a home.”
It ought to be clear why such lyrics would appeal to someone like myself from a young age.
 See, for example:
 See, for example:
 This is an experience that greatly moved me:
https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/12/11/he-waited-for-the-city/ (The text of the sermon itself.)