Died Away from Home

I walked to Penrhyndeudraeth from Porthmadog one morning, late summer. I called at Holy Trinity Church, the local Anglican parish. A friendly Englishwoman was inside vacuuming, and various fruits and flowers were being assembled and arranged ahead of a harvest festival. There was little of interest in terms of history or architecture but I was still glad of the distraction which an ecclesiastical detour promises.

A couple of stone tablets were affixed to the walls, both for men who died a long way from home. One belongs to the local squire, Liberal MP and J.P., Sir Arthur Williams, who died in Australia in 1927 while visiting his daughter. The other was erected to commemorate marine engineer Arthur Owen. Unfortunately, he was in Hamburg in August 1914 when war broke out; the imperial German government had him interned at Ruhleben as an enemy national, where he died of TB two years later. He never returned to Penrhyndeudraeth, nor his native Liverpool. Although Germany was closer to Wales than Australia, I suspect that Sir Arthur died more comfortably than his namesake.

When the non-Christian dies, he or she loses their home; death exiles them from all they owned and cherished. The Christian, on the other hand, always dies away from home. Death, for him or her, is the great home-coming, the ticket to where they truly belong, the return leg. This world ceased to be home the moment they accepted Christ; what they leave behind they understood was no longer theirs to keep.

"In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” John 14:2-4