Home is where there are no mixed expectations, only the fulfillment of all that your heart knows to be there… Home is where the people smile and frown only when they are really happy or sad. Home is where the hand that reaches out to pick you up might slap you out of your misery, and do so in love. Home is where you take off your shoes and sit down your big nurse’s tote and sigh with relief, only to have your brother yell at you to go take a shower before coming anywhere near him… It is a plate of food kept in the fridge just for you, and a moon that is rising through the trees just like you’ve seen it do a hundred times before. But it never loses the ability to take your breath away.
Home is lying on a bed in your sister’s room at midnight, falling asleep while you ask deep questions about life. It is laughing till you cry about something that isn’t really that funny, but not caring because there’s no one who will criticize you. They just roll their eyes instead. Home is where coffee is a morning experience, with blankets and friends, and sometimes a mid-morning experience too, with Grandma and scones and gossip.
Home is where mom asks if I did something yet, about five times, and I sigh like a martyr. Then I forget to do it, so she does it for me. Home is where my puppy comes running into the house when she knows she shouldn’t, but she trusts that I’ll forgive her, and I do. Then she curls up and sleeps on the rug.
Home is where the hardest things have happened. Home is where we watched him walking with swinging farmer strides, and where we watched him breathe his last breath of his country air… Home is where we have cried and laughed, broken and mended.
Home is where the crisp autumn air curls my toes, and I reach for my favorite blanket–the one my sister made for me. Sometimes I just sit outside on the porch and watch the same view I’ve seen so many times, as though it is the most fascinating thing on earth. It changes as I change… Autumn, summer, winter, spring… Green grass, sculptured snow drifts, orange leaves, the first crocuses… Home right now is gilt-edged and the frost kills the flowers I saw this summer, in stark contrast to the profuse green of the country where I now live.
I thought as I walked through tightly placed houses and mud last week, that it is funny how familiarity grows like love in one’s heart, how understanding leads to a forgiveness of trash and dirt. I thought that my coworker playing with his baby on the tent floor was so different from the people I first met a few weeks ago, and yet the same. I think about feeling like one belongs and the acceptance of the people here who are also so homesick for Myanmar, the people who care for their families and talk to me about mine. I think about how right it’s beginning to feel to drive through the dawning morning with the wind in my face and see children playing naked along the road and palm trees swaying in the breeze.
I never knew before what it meant to be homesick. I didn’t know that it’s a quiet ache every moment that never quite leaves you, a knowing that somewhere else your people are living without you. I didn’t know that you live in spite of it, and laugh in spite of it, and it makes you kinder and softer around the edges. I didn’t know that it could exist in spite of a complete confidence that you are right where God wants you. It also feels like expectation and a joy that there are those on the other side of the world who love you and know you.
I thought the other day, as I realized I am learning to love Bangladesh intimately without any lessening of my love for the country roads of Juniata County, that perhaps homesickness will be a condition I will live with for the rest of my life. Perhaps it will make me feel more deeply, and love more richly, and change me into who He wants me to be…
Until that day when I find myself in the house of God, where Home will be all that which I love best, united in Him.
All of our longings come home to You. ~James Croegaert