I remember the first time I referred to going to college as “going home”. It was during Christmas break and I was talking to my mom. I remember thinking she couldn’t have looked sadder if I’d punched her. I started babbling about how weird it was to have two homes and whenever I’m in one I talk about “going home” referring to the other place
What I didn’t realize was that I was only experiencing a taste of what was to come. I now have at least three homes. I have a home with the South Asian family I first lived with. I have the home I currently live in, near all of my friends. And I have my home in America with my parents and sister and friends who I still email regularly.
This makes me feel slightly schizophrenic, since in the same day I can use the word “home” to refer to three completely different places that have completely different levels of comfort and “hominess”.
It also makes the feeling of homesickness much more confusing. When I was nine years old at summer camp – being homesick was straightforward. I hated being at summer camp, I wanted to go home. No torn loyalties there.
But now, I can settle down to an American meal and eat slowly, wistfully, indulging the feelings of sadness and longing for home. Yet all of the time, I know that when I go “home” to the US, I’ll be missing the South Asian dishes of rajma or peas & paneer – indulging the same sense of homesickness.
I guess this takes us back to the idea that we’re on this earth as strangers and aliens, living in places that we call home, but that don’t completely fill out the meaning of that word to its fullest.
In a transcript of a speech on this topic, sent to me by a friend, a speaker was talking about the tower of Babel and the impulse of its builders to settle down. God had told those people to travel the world and fill it, to subdue it to its furthest corner. But they didn’t want the life of travel – they wanted to build a tower and stay in a single place. They wanted to build Heaven on earth. A place of permanence, of rest, of comfort.
I know the feeling.
The title of this blog is an acknowledgement and celebration, even, that we’re supposed to be on a journey. But sometimes, I’d rather sit down on the side of the path and build myself a little tower. Congratulate myself for having come this far, but eschewing the need to go any further.
Sometimes I think the Babel builders had the right idea.
But there’s a reason we use the terminology of “settling” to talk about the acceptance of something less than was possible. We talk about “settling” for a job with lesser pay or how a girl or guy “settled” for someone with less-than-outstanding character simply to be married. “Settling” means accepting that life isn’t as wonderful as your gut told you it could be.
Instead, we’re called to press on. To keep going. To keep hoping – because love always hopes. To keep believing, to keep having faith, to continue to fight-the-good-fight.
Now into my second year living overseas in a crazy place that sometimes surprises me every day and sometimes wears me out with its sameness, I can testify that this is not a movement of our bodies on a physical journey.
Our journey is primarily a spiritual one – a refusal to allow anything other than Heaven to satisfy our soul’s longing for home.
So on this journey, we awake every morning to take a few more steps towards God. We ask softly in prayer, “Where, today, Lord?”
Where, today, will your kingdom come?
Where, today, Lord will your will be done?
Where, today, do I ignore the pull of mediocrity in my job or ministry in favor of seeing your name glorified through me?
It may not ease the homesickness, but at least we’re not “settling”.