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October 23, 2021

Ann Farabee: The walk home

By Ann Farabee

It was a combination of fun, freedom, and fear. Each day as our elementary school dismissal bell rang, I would meet the other children from my neighborhood so we could walk home together, with textbooks and lunchboxes in hand.

About halfway down the first block, there it was!

The giant dog! It was always looking for me!

It would bark.

It would run.

It would chase me.

Everyone else kept walking and talking and laughing.

Not me! I would keep screaming, flailing my arms around, and running for my life.

The monstrous dog would eventually stop and head back home.

I had survived another walk down Juniper Street!

Sometimes, the giant dog would be sleeping as we walked by.

Then, the walk was fun.

Then, I felt freedom.

But on a day that dog was looking for me, I felt fear.

No fun. No freedom. Only fear.

When I got closer to home, I could not see my home, but I could see my next door neighbor whose name was Cannon Mills. It was ‘loom’ing in the distance and getting closer every step I took. We were very close neighbors, for we were only separated by a cotton-filled chain link fence about six feet away from my house.

Yes, our home was directly beside the very huge mill — but it was merely a backdrop for me — because I was looking for something else — home!

Mama would be standing at the door looking for me. She would have a snack prepared for me. She would talk with me about my day. It was good to be home — away from the fears of the world.

Home — there really is no place like it.

It is never perfect, but it sure is special.

My mother is now in heaven.

The house has now been moved.

The land the house was on is now an extremely close neighbor to the N.C. Research Center.

I still hold that home in my heart.

I can feel it, even though I cannot see it.

I remember the walk.

I remember the way.

I remember the welcome.

One more thing: I like dogs now.

One more thing: I was a teacher at the school I walked home from as a child.

But the feeling of heading home — and being home — has not changed.

In a way, we are all walking home, aren’t we?

Yes, we will have fun, freedom, and fears along the way.

But — Jesus walks with us.

He knows the way.

Actually — he is the way.

As scary as a neighborhood dog was and as huge and loud as Cannon Mills was — I never really made them my focus — because home “loom”ed even bigger in my eyes. It was the place where my loved ones would be standing at the door waiting for me — and looking for me.

As Billy Graham once said, “My home is in heaven. I’m just traveling through this world.”

I think I will say it also:

My home is in heaven. I’m just traveling through this world.

Ann Farabee is a teacher, writer and speaker. Contact her at annfarabee@gmail.com or annfarabee.com.

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