He may have been from North Carolina, but that doesn't mean that Thomas Wolfe was always right. His famous novel title, You Can't Go Home Again, was disproven again this weekend when former Unity Church of Raleigh associate minister, the Reverend Richard Maraj, returned to speak 11 years after he left the area for greener ministerial pastures (Richard is currently the minister of the Unity Church of Phoenix, which as 1,200 members--which is probably more members than all the Unity churches in the Triangle combined).
This was special to us because Richard Maraj was the minister both for our wedding, and for the public ceremony and celebration we had for my son's birth. He left when my son was only one year old, so my son has no recollection of him. But he does have a lovely book, On the Day You Were Born, with an uplifting dedication from the man who gave it to him--Richard Maraj.
So we got ourselves up and downtown to heard Richard's message this morning as part of the 9:00 service at the Unity Church of the Triangle. And the whole thing felt like those indelible words from the musical Sunset Boulevard: "Everything's as if we never said Goodbye." When Richard took the stage, he talked about how much it felt like coming home to be in Raleigh, even though he had been gone 11 years. And while he looked a little older--as do we all--he still had the same polished look and delivery that helped make him a finalist in the International Toastmasters Speech Competition that he competed in before turning to the ministry. He looked fabulous, he spoke well with pauses, errors, or notes, and he was both intimate and funny. Most importantly of all, though, was the wisdom in words he was delivering so well.
We got to share a few words with him before he left--to hear how well he is doing and to catch up on where our lives have taken us. He remembered my son's name, although he couldn't exactly recognize the baby who is turning into a young man. And, of course, he couldn't forget me, or my husband (who, unfortunately, couldn't be there because he was out of town with the annual meeting of his men's group--but who sent his love).
Mostly, it was a reminder that the people who have been significant in our lives are still part of us, even when a decade or more passes and people's lives have transformed. As long as someone is still there who carried you in their heart, you can always come home again.