Students have been transitioning to being back at Blake Street for two weeks now. After a five-week break, Ella writes about what this experience is teaching her about home.
I wrote this reflection after battling bouts of homesickness in the fall. I’m super close with my family, so being away from home for the first year has been difficult. Coming back to Act Five after five weeks at home has not been an easy transition. But when I was asked to share this reflection that I wrote last fall, I found this liturgy in a beautiful prayer book called ‘Every Moment Holy’ which just put what I was feeling into words so well. If you have time I would recommend reading the entire thing, but here’s a favourite part, and some thoughts that I’ve had on the idea of home, and missing it.
“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.”
When I read that liturgy days ago, I was thinking about these words I wrote months ago:
You know that feeling of home? That warm feeling you get that feels like it’s reaching to the very depths of your soul when you think about the blue couch in your living room and the sunlight flooding in, and the smell of fresh baked bread or chai concentrate filling the air?
That ache that you feel when you’re away from all that? I’ve learned that it is not an ache for baked goods or yummy drinks, it’s for the place and the people to whom you belong to.
The ache that I feel is for the comfort that I felt because of a stable warm home, a loving family, and a community I knew that I fit into.
And ever since I realized that the feeling of comfort at home is not always there, that the warm nostalgia feeling of “I’m gonna remember this later” does not always make an appearance when I think it will, I’ve felt an ache for a place that has not existed.
I’m homesick for a place that is safe from conflict and brokenness.
For the home that I grew up in, when I was young and didn’t recognize the fragmented parts that every home has, when everything truly felt like sunshine and roses. But that feeling of home? The warmth in your soul? That is not necessarily a bad or fake feeling. In fact, that is a good, very real feeling, and it is from the Creator.
God is pure life and light and warmth, He is Home, embodied in this world.
So in a sense when I am homesick, I am homesick for God. For His presence, His refuge, for a time when God will make all things, all places, people who are broken and shattered new.
Let me steward well this gift of homesickness, O Lord.