Homesick

16
Oct

Once again, I’m not sure what to write about. I was up late last night finishing off a eulogy for a funeral this morning, and getting a grant application together for our HIV/AIDS retreat in June (the deadline to get it in is today.) So I’m tired. I ate cookies and cereal late at night to keep me going and this morning I feel bloated. Now I’m working on my second cup of coffee, hoping it will help clear out the brain fog.

Perhaps I should reach down into the ocean of memories of the past and pull out a fish to fry. I try this and the only fish biting are the ones I’ve caught way to many times before, so I throw them back, worrying about sounding redundant, or morose, or boastful, or overly revealing, or just plain tedious (which is what this essay is already beginning to sound to my ear.)

The brain needs to get still.

Maybe it is time to pray. O God who has placed me in this awe-inspiring mystery which is life, awaken me from my sleep walk. The days roll on and on, and too soon the day of regret will come wherein I will wish that I could be back in the days that were squandered, and this time around to truly savor them.  Allow me, O God, to see beyond the million and one ways I hide the lamp under the bushel, masking the mystery and grandeur of it all.  Amen.

I am alive and this day is meant for more than meeting deadlines.

When I was young, there would be days when I would awaken in the morning, and the awesome wonder of simply being alive would strike me with stunning force, as though the vast majority of the time I had somehow simply missed it. In milder ways, I approach that same experience at times as an adult as well.

A memory: my family left Mississippi when I was only five to move north to Long Island, then to New Jersey, never again to return other than for a couple of short vacation trips. I remember going back when I was maybe eight for a summertime visit of a week or two, staying on the very same street where I had lived the first five years of my life. (Buckley Drive.) The time of the visit wasn’t perfect — I think I had quarreled with neighborhood children with which I had once lived — but when the time came to leave and head back north, a great sadness came over me, and I cried, homesick for something the street represented — the innocence, I suspect of not yet being six.

I would not return there again until I was 21, when, having completed four years of college and intent on spending some time as an adventurer, I hitch hiked all the way to Mississippi. My mother’s cousins still lived on that same street, so I stayed with them. I remember walking slowly down the street, looking at the houses. It was November and the street was empty; the children who lived there, if there were any, were all off at school. Everything seemed so small in contrast to the memories of my childhood.  I remember looking at one particular house and hearing an old woman’s voice coming out of it; her face was hidden from me behind some veiled window.  She said something like, “What are you looking for?” I suspect she feared I was casing the house for a burglary. I said that I had once lived on the street and was just back visiting. She asked me my name, and when I told her, she said something like, “I never heard of that name living here before.”

The couple of days I spent with my relatives happened to include my birthday, a fact I didn’t let on since it seemed rude to show up and announce to my hosts that I was having a birthday, obliging them to celebrate it somehow. So my birthday passed without acknowledgement, adding to my sense of being a wayfaring stranger.

I had set off on this trip because I wanted to see myself as brave adventurer, but mostly I just felt homesick.

God who gave me life, my home is with you, and all homesickness points me back to you.  As I sojourn in this world, help me to feel your presence. As I wander, let me not sleep walk. It truly is good to be alive.  Amen.

*****

I wonder if anybody has noticed that if you read my blog early in the day, and then go back to it again later, the wording in places may have changed in subtle ways. This is because I re-read what I have written and decide it would be better said somewhat differently, and so I re-edit my words. When writing, when I have nothing new to say, I find I can stay engaged in the process by endlessly editing what I have already written, and who knows? maybe something will occur to me that is new, fresh, awakened.  If not, at least I can polish the silverware.

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