We had guests in my Youth Group on Sunday.
They were a family of missionaries: a father, a mother, and their daughter, who is attending college in the fall. My youth pastor introduced her with, “This is Ana. She’s lived all over the world; I’ll let her tell you more about that.”
So we chatted, like normal friendly people. She had lived in at least three countries. Her smile was bright, warm, and genuine, and life seemed to spill from her. My teenage brother, known for his deep, thoughtful questions, asked her what it was like adjusting to other cultures.
And somehow we ended up talking about my travels. I’ve been on a few short-term trips: twice to Venezuela and once to Italy (Brasil doesn’t quite count *cough*).
And then she asked the Impossible Question.
“Which do you like more?”
See, I’m homesick for lots of places. Show me pictures of a country, and all of a sudden my traveling bug is giving me fits. Wanderlust strikes again! I can’t claim to feel the same as those who have lived in another country (or countries) for months–or years–but I think I can say that I feel a faint echo of that.
I don’t belong here. And it drives me crazy. Yeah, I know, I know, it’s a short walk. But I’m restless. I love the people I have met, and cried and laughed with; I miss the sounds, and the food, and the belonging. Every time I step out of the car in Florida, some part of my soul laughs and says, “I remember. Home.” Every time I stare into the row-by-row of the fields flying by, and the blue stars, huge in a thousand bright webs tossed into the span of South Georgia, I laugh at my smallness, and my soul says, “Home.” When the crackle of newspapers covered in pecan shells stacking higher while the football game I watch for the company of my family hits my ears like the sound of a cassette tape case, my soul says, “Family. Home.” Every time that I ask what is outside a friend’s window, or cry because I can’t remember a name, my soul is looking for home. I find glimpses and fragments with the people and places here, but this ache remains.
Because it ends. I’m chasing smoke signals, running toward them before they flare and fade. The funny thing about smoke signals, though, is that you can follow them, if you never take your eyes off of them, and run as hard as you can. You never know where you might end up.
You’re standing on the shore
And all my words are shooting flares
They’re smoke signals
Praying for a rescue plane [Andy Osenga, “Smoke Signals.” Leonard the Lonely Astronaut.]
I answered with, “I don’t know. They’re all sort of home to me, y’know?” Because I try to look for God where I go (He’s there, regardless), and all these aches are leading me there, our of this crazy far land with fools and meteorites and june-bugs that is so broken and beautiful. It’s a howling storm, and I’m chasing woven glass, a thousand spiraling threads, until my soul can say:
“God is at home. We are in the far country.” – Meister Eckhart
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