When I was five my mother married “Big Bob.” Bob was 6’5” with jet black hair and a deep Texas drawl. He was a heavy equipment operator during the week and a successful race car driver on weekends. He was impressive and imposing. The marriage was not one of those Hallmark Christmas movies but it was blessed with my younger brother, Robert. Because we all shared a love for Robert, we stayed in touch through the years. The first years were awkward, as they often are with divorce and custody. Bob remarried and he and Colleen began what would be a wonderful 52 year marriage.

Bob and I were occasionally in contact all along and then, when Robert served in Iraq, that frequency increased as we kept each other abreast of Robert’s news. Our conversations were casual and friendly, often meandering along about other mutual interests, especially racing and antique cars. When Bob’s daughter, Lisa, threw a party to celebrate Bob’s 80th birthday, I was honored to be a guest at her home.

For Bob’s 85th birthday Lisa, Robert, and I took him to breakfast. We caught up a little but spent most of the time quizzing Bob about his family history and memories. Afterwards, as we walked to our cars, Bob and I shared a brief moment about what might have been. Then a hug. As we parted, I said I was glad it worked out in the end.

You know that expression, “I feel right at home with them”? Sometimes home is a physical place but sometimes feeling at home is about getting a relationship right even if that occurs by a rather unexpected or circuitous route.

As we conclude this Advent season, I hope that you have once again heard the invitation to be at home with God and at peace with our neighbors. I believe it is worthwhile to be on that journey even if it seems to be taking a whole lifetime.