This gift of homesickness

“I’m just so tired of being new,” I confessed to my husband yesterday. We had walked out of the church we visited, not quite knowing what to do with ourselves. Do we stand around awkwardly, waiting (hoping) for someone to speak to us? Do we walk on out to our car, avoiding looking awkward but also risking appearing unfriendly and unapproachable? It’s so weird not knowing anyone, all the more so in these pandemic times.

I’m tired of being new. I miss being known and I miss knowing. I’m homesick for familiar faces and places and routines. I miss my friends like crazy, of course I do, absolutely I do, but I also miss the simple familiarity of being settled in my place, whatever and wherever that place may be.

The pandemic has made us all a little homesick, I think. We are all longing for a return to the familiar, the expected, the certain. I saw a meme not too long ago that stated a wish for “precedented times.” Yes and amen.

I have been meditating on and praying and pondering the following prayer from Every Moment Holy...

Let me steward well, Lord Christ
this gift of homesickness–this grieving for a
childhood gone, this ache for distant family,
lost fellowship, past laughter, shared lives, and
the sense that I was somewhere I belonged.

It is a good, good thing to have a home.

But now that I have gone from it, let me steward
well, O God, this homesick gift, as I know my
wish for what has been is not some solitary
ache, but is woven with a deeper longing
for what will one day be.

This yearning to return to what I knew is,
even more than that, a yearning for a place
my eyes have yet to see.

So let me steward this sacred yearning well.
Homesickness is indeed a holy thing,
like the slow burning of an immortal beacon,
set ablaze to bid us onward.

The shape of that ache for another time
and place is the imprint of eternity within
within our souls.

So let those sorrows do their work in me,
O God. Let them stir such yearnings as would
fix my journey forward toward that place for
which I’ve always pined…

I’ve shared this prayer with a couple of friends, one for whom the timing of CoVid has been particularly cruel and she waits and prays for a miracle, another enduring her own journey through a spiritual drought and wilderness. Though our circumstances and our homesicknesses are very different, we each of us cling to this truth: our yearning, our hope, our desire, all serve to point us to something greater, bigger, more worthy. Christ alone is our only hope, He alone is our satisfaction, He alone is more than sufficient. Our sorrows, “big” or “small” they may be, are beacons, set ablaze to bid us onward, as this liturgy attests.

May this CoVid fatigue we’re all feeling, this yearning for normal (whatever “normal” is, who can even remember), this homesickness for security and certainty–may we steward it well. The liturgy for inconsolable homesickness concludes with the reminder–and this is what I keep preaching to myself–that “This is the holy work of homesickness: to teach our hearts how lonely they have always been for God.” One day all our yearning, all our grieving, all our waiting, will find full and abundant satisfaction in Jesus! May we set our hearts fully on Him as we love and trust Him more…

Let all your children learn to grieve well in this
life, knowing we are not just being homesick;
we are letting sorrow carve
the spaces in our souls,
that joy will one day fill.
O Holy Spirit, bless our grief, and
seal our hearts until that day.

“A Liturgy for Inconsolable Homesickness,” Every Moment Holy