I was on tour with some folks for most of December. One of the last shows was in Greenville, NC, and I remember seeing the pouring rain from the green room window. The mountains pressed against the stormy skyline, the cedars were swaying precariously against the hills, the clouds were a charcoal gray—it was beautiful (Cedar of Lebanon). But while I was playing ping-pong in a youth group gym, I found myself thinking about this place I had called “home” for the last nineteen years. I knew that in a few days I would walk through those doors after a long run of shows and there my mother would be, excited and joyful, just as curious and kind as when I’d left. The room would be bright and beautiful and full of life, just like the woman who made it so.
The tour ended three days before Christmas and I had no gift for her—just a melody that I sort-of liked and a few scribbled lyrics I jotted down in a Taco Bell drive-thru. So I shut myself in my room and I told myself I wouldn’t leave until I had written something I liked. I had no idea this appreciation for my mother’s hospitality would be the theme of the whole record I was about to make. The verse was simple (with a few nerdy internal rhymes):
Greenville brought the grey skies and it rained like it was springtime. The world, it bore a beauty on its back. I love the Carolinas, the Blue Ridge, and the pines but Tennessee is all I’ll ever have.
And then the chorus:
Somewhere in the suburbs there’s a little gravel drive, And a home with the heart of a mother just waiting there inside. She waits, she waits for us.
Home is a funny thing; sometimes I think we have to leave it for a while before we can really appreciate how wonderful it is. I was the stereotypical teen that was itching to graduate so I could go and live “real life”—whatever that even means (Real Love). As if this real life the Lord has so graciously given is not enough to make me want to stay. To sit. To love where I am and the people around me. The older I get, the more I think that maybe it’s a braver thing to know the name of your neighbor than to climb El Capitan (Map).
The second verse talks about homesickness. Or, as Doug McKelvey puts it, “a deeper longing for what will one day be.” I think we can admit that we are creatures of hope; people who yearn for something more, something real, something lasting. We’re all the same in the end if the Old Testament has taught us anything (Just Like Them).
Each day we worked till midnight; I can picture the home on the hillside I can see her open door and open arms. Yearning is a holy thing, it’s the imprint of eternity, The sense that there is somewhere we belong.
And then the second chorus:
Somewhere in the suburbs, she’s beckoning us home. I can’t help but love her, I’m a child she calls her own. She waits, she waits for us.
There are about fifteen psalms that Hebrew pilgrims traditionally sang on their way to Jerusalem. They’re from the period of the Babylonian Captivity (586), written by captives longing for their home, for future peace and prosperity after severe oppression. They’re called Songs of Ascent because the road to get there was an uphill climb. I’ve never been to Jerusalem, but I imagine that the trek to get there is tiring.
That's what this record is about—how to be pilgrims heading toward a better place, but also seeing that the kingdom is here, too, if we look close enough. Skye Peterson
We’re not the only ones who are in the “in between,” as Eugene Peterson describes it. We’re between the time we leave home and arrive at our destination; between the time we leave adolescence and arrive at adulthood; between the time we leave doubt and arrive at faith. But as I look ahead to that future reality, I forget that there’s beauty here beside me now. I can look to my left and know that the resurrection is real by seeing daffodils rise again after the winter (Resurrection in You). I can get lost in the wonder of this place called “now” and breathe deep the air that tells me that despite the sin and brokenness here, God loves the world that he made (Wonder of it All).
We get little pictures of the Kingdom right here in the suburbs. That’s what this record is about—how to be lost in the wonder of this place called “here.” It’s about learning to love where we are, to see the truth of God in the kindness of friends, the beauty of spring, the turning of a page. It’s about how to be pilgrims heading toward a better place, but also seeing that the kingdom is here, too, if we look close enough. This record is about how to love home.
I heard about the pilgrims when they journeyed to Jerusalem, They sang about that city far away. Deep inside this soul of mine, I ache to see those city lights And feel that holy rest beyond the gates.Somewhere there’s a Kingdom with a door that’s open wide And a Father who’s been waiting for his child to come inside. And the kingdom’s come in the suburbs, In the home with the heart of a mother She lives out the love of the Father who waits for us. He waits, he waits for us.