Exile and Home

by the Rev. Paul McLain


During my time in Covid quarantine this week, I have been reading Making Loss Matter: Creating Meaning in Difficult Times by Rabbi David Wolpe, one of our Lenten Preaching Series preachers for our 100th anniversary in 2023. This week, I especially identify with his thoughts about exile. Rabbi Wolpe writes, “Exile is the prerequisite for growth…. We live in temporary homes as we travel through the wilderness. Nothing is permanent, and no place ideal. Our task is not to gather in the shade of the garden’s trees, but to grow as we hold hands through the wilderness.”


Part of my growth during this week of wilderness time is an awareness of the presence of God with us each step of the way on the uncharted path of exile. Even in whatever form of quarantine we are experiencing, we know that we are not alone. We feel tenderly guided through the valley by the rod and the staff of our Good Shepherd. We know, too, that we have a whole congregation of friends who are holding us up.


Times of exile help us wander and meander toward finding the promised land of home. Rabbi Wolpe describes Abraham, but he’s really describing all of us, as he reflects, “Abraham has lost many homes, but he has never really been homeless. He has carried his home inside of him because he has lived with faith. Abraham knows that he is not alone.” More than ever, we know that too.

16 thoughts on “Exile and Home”

  1. What a meaningful reflection. The wisdom that sticks with me is the reminder that “…we are not alone. We feel tenderly guided through the valley by the rod and the staff of our Good Shepherd.” Thank you for expressing this reassurance. I’m glad you are feeling better! Love, Elizabeth

  2. We re not alone even quarantined . Reflecting on the power of meditation and prayer.
    Thank you for reminding me that “every one has a story”
    Hope you feel better

  3. Thinking of you Paul as you go through this formative and unpredictable time! Take good care of your dear Self

    1. Thanks, Linda. I missed being with you and all the good folks at Trezevant this week, but look forward to being with you this coming Wednesday! It has been an unpredictable, but formative, time and I highly recommend Rabbi Wolpe’s book.
      Love and Blessings,

  4. Thank you Paul. Its always good to be reminded. I have felt alone a lot in my life due to different circumstances, but always knew I was not. It helps me through those times. I would tell Jep not to worry, I would be fine. And as much as it is painful, it has the flip side. So lucky to have so much love. Glad you are on the mend and that you actually felt good enough to read. I appreciate you. Z♥️

  5. Thank you for those reassuring words, Paul. At times I fear being alone. So this helps! Hope you are better every day!!

  6. Dear Paul,

    I just saw this and didn’t know you were sick until I started reading! I’ve clearly been out of touch but want you to know how much I care about you and hope you fully recover really soon. Please do everything you need to do to take care of yourself. I call it putting the oxygen mask on yourself first. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of others very well (or even not at all.) Don’t rush anything. We don’t want to lose you…ever.

    1. Pat, thanks so much for this. I’m feeling much better and tested negative yesterday. I will take care of myself and have been gradual about my reentry. You mean a lot to me too!
      Love and Blessings,

  7. Home is not a place or a house or a building. It is a feeling and an understanding of where we are and the love and support we have to surround us. As Paul has reminded us that exile is not a bad or ugly word but it is a period of taking stock of where we are and preparing us for the future. The exile of the Hebrews and other exiles in our history has taught and shown us what can be ahead of us. Once again thank you Paul for placing that stop sign in our daily thoughts and giving us the time to say it is good to be in exile.

    1. You’re welcome, Whit. Thanks for your thoughtful comment on home and exile. It was wonderful to be inside the “home” of your family and friends this past Sunday afternoon!
      Love and Blessings,

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