Homesickness: An Introduction and an Invitation
I wonder if I know a little of what Adam and Eve may have felt, or at least I like to imagine it. Adam had a home with God, who was still on his breath. He couldn’t have known how marvelous it was simply to unfold and speak in holy tongue. God taught original language there but let Adam choose what to call the animals. When he woke to Eve, I wonder if he thought her like a dove. She wasn’t made from the ground like the rest but was made of his bone, strong. He loved her. He loved how he fit with her. They were whole there together at home, where a million metaphors began, all the ways to experience God.
They were naked by the river, listening, legs sprawled out the way kids sit wide open in front of their mamas, no shame. The sky was a sapphire and full of water. They were in the freshness of God’s rest: easy sleep and fulfilling work.
When the angel came with the flaming sword in every direction, sending them away from the Tree of Life, what grief must have pressed in. This is where our inherited sense of homesickness began. The clothes they hadn’t needed before were sewn by the hand of God, and then the babies came, and with them violence, rejection, and enough shame to send the world into needing a flood.
How they must have looked back and remembered. How they must have missed home. When Adam’s plants bore no fruit, did he close his eyes and taste Eden’s pomegranates?
I wonder if he was like I am. When the seasons change, anything shifts at all, it reminds me of home. I long for it. I can taste it. I’ve been known to wake up early in the morning, imagine the biscuits, and start packing my four sons in Arkan- sas to drive all the way to Alabama. I get sick with missing, but every time I go, it doesn’t seem to have the same sweet feeling as the one I had as a child. Not many even know my name there now, and the sense of freedom I used to have isn’t any easier there than it is here. It often doesn’t stop me from trying though. I long for a place to fit, and sometimes I forget and become desperate for a sense of peace. I want to hear my daddy say my name. I want to listen to the creek run white over rocks with my sister. I want my children to feel the wind sweep through.
All the striving to regain such feelings of home, even as I create home now as a wife and mother, I know none of it will do to give me peace. Home here really is a mere metaphor, but it’s one that anchors me. How wild and free we were when we were too small to care for ourselves in that hollow at the mountain base. The way I remember home is the same way the prodigal son remembered his when he found himself eating scraps. It’s the place we know we can go, where we’ll be received and fed. It’s where we know we have a name.
I’m not so naïve to think that most people have lovely child- hood memories of home like I do. I think we were the only people on the planet to have a ginormous swimming pool slide in our yard without the actual pool at the bottom. Even still, I wonder if you feel it too—the homesickness for a people and a place to belong, the desire for the freedom and safety you might find there, the thrill and the comfort. Maybe it’s what draws you toward the things you hold dear. We often hold on to memories, places, people, and things because there’s something of home in them. There’s a sense of freedom, the belonging that happens with real friends that makes you feel at home. So many of us are working out a homesickness, and I believe the homesickness is what all our wanderings are all about. We’re searching for home—a place of acceptance, a place of fulfillment, and a place of identity. At the basest level, we suspect that home is the place where we’ll find our fit, where we’ll finally be free.
Is this desire for home familiar to you? This is an excerpt of Wild in the Hollow: On Chasing Desire and Finding the Broken Way Home. Let me invite you to join us beginning August 28th for a Wild in the Hollow Book Club. While we wait to begin, purchase enough copies of the book, and ask your friends to join us. I will have a video and questions for conversation starters every week, and you and friends can jump at any time once it begins. I’m excited to get started.