Hiraeth

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When I was very young (I am still young, but not quite so very young) we moved 1 ½ miles to a new home, a large roomy house with a barn and acres of farmland. It was a mildly traumatic event in my life, which had already reached the painful age of 3. The day we moved I remember standing in front of the couch where my mom was taking a break and looking up at her.

“Mom, I want to go home!”

A few days later, my mom took me along to clean the old trailer house where we had been living in, in preparation for the new owners.  She took me with her so I would have a chance to “go home” again. Once we reached there, I looked around sadly at the empty walls and the echoing rooms and said, “Mom, this isn’t home either.”

Home.

Where is it? Is it the little trailer house under the Osage orange trees that gather dust stirred from the heavy grain trucks that speed down the dirt road in the harvest season? Is it the tall, sprawling farmhouse on the blacktop road that holds the echoes of the laughter and shouts and tears and questions of 5 children with lively imaginations and tall dreams? Or is it this far away land where the language still rings foreign on my American ears, but children dream and laugh and smile just the way I did when I was a child?

They say home is where the heart is. If this is true, I have a portion of my home left back in the old farmhouse where my father and mother and sister still work out their living, milking cows and raising crops. If this is true, I have a home in the little white schoolhouse where I attended for 8 years and then taught for three years, laughing and crying and beseeching God for wisdom and strength as I taught in my naivete.  I have a home where my heart is scattered all over Asia on short term mission trips last year, concrete Cambodian dwellings, thatched Indian huts or mountain built Chinese abodes. I have a home with a Thai family that I shared a roof and food and laughter, life and visions with for 2 ½ months. Just recently I moved for the 6th time in a little over a year into my final landing place for a while- a medium-sized room with a sink and a counter and a bathroom. Right now I call that home. If I ever leave here, I know that the same pangs of memories will assail me whenever I hear the babble of a foreign language or smell a smidgen of cilantro or see the sun sinking low in the smoky west with palm trees as a frame.

There’s no avoiding this ache that just throbs inside of you if you attempt to live a life to the fullest. Which is better – to stay in your comfort zone and pull the covers tightly over your ears and be safe, never to mourn the things you have loved, because you have never had the courage to love them? Or to carry a perpetual ache inside of you as you step with God into new situations, feeling the pang of the old loves being torn from you and never being fully able to put into words what they meant to you?

Perhaps this is what it means to enlarge your heart.

Here is a link to a short article that got me thinking today and gave me some words to put to the feelings inside of me. singing songs of joy in a foreign land

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