As a retired Episcopal priest, Father Tim Kavanagh is well aware of the power of words. Words of comfort. Words of Scripture. Words of encouragement. But it only takes two simple words to inspire him to make one of the most important journeys of his life, and those words are: “Come home.”
And so he does.
Traveling to his boyhood home in northern Mississippi doesn’t merely take Father Tim across hundreds of miles. Thanks to a thousand sights and smells, he also travels back through memories— some fond and some he’s tried for nearly forty years to forget. He recalls his stern, quick-to-anger father, who was plagued by his own father’s abuse. He remembers his beloved maternal grandfather, who, like himself, lived his life in service to God. And, of course, he thinks back to his mother, whose beauty was rivaled only by that of the gardens she so lovingly tended. Though the memories may be very much alive, the people connected to them are all buried near the oldest tree in Hill Crest Cemetery.
But what about the people his age? What about his best friend and blood-brother from childhood? And the boy who received a harsh punishment that rightfully should have gone to the young Timothy?
Arriving at the town’s picturesque square, Father Tim is pleased to find a few familiar storefronts. But trying to find the people he’s looking for only leads to frustration. Until, that is, the small town rumor mill kicks in. He receives an invitation to have tea with two women, one of whom was his long ago fiancée.
Slowly, the people from his past help illuminate for Father Tim his life and his family. For the first time he turns fully toward the memories of his childhood in Holly Springs and lets them flood over him. He’s grateful to sleep in the same room he slept in as a child. He’s thankful for the grace that allows forgiveness to take the place of resentment and anger in many of his relationships.
Finally, the author of the mysterious note that brought him to Holly Springs is revealed. The answer to this mystery also leads Father Tim closer to understanding his parents and why, so many years ago, a beloved family friend disappeared without saying goodbye.
But with these answers come another question, one that will lead Father Tim to an agonizing question: Should he once again seal a brotherhood with his own blood?