Monday, September 7, 2009

Longing for Home

There's more that rises in the morning
Than the sun
And more that shines in the night
Than just the moon
It's more than just this fire here
That keeps me warm
In a shelter that is larger
Than this room

And there's a loyalty that's deeper
Than mere sentiments
And a music higher than the songs
That I can sing
The stuff of Earth competes
For the allegiance
I owe only to the Giver
Of all good things

So if I stand let me stand on the promise
That you will pull me through
And if I can't let me fall on the grace
That first brought me to You
And if I sing let me sing for the joy
That has born in me these songs
And if I weep let it be as a man
Who is longing for his home

- Rich Mullins

Sometimes, life surprises me with its beauty. Days go by and I don’t notice the sky as much. I used to see the leaves on that tree across from my office and admire them every day, the green against vivid blue. How long has it been since I stopped looking up?

One day, I look up.

And I am surprised, once again, by that sudden and intense ache in my chest. I’m not so much surprised by the beauty, but rather by the ache. It’s a sudden rush of joy, yet homesickness, too, combined into a most bittersweet of flavors.

Beauty does that to me, when I truly notice it. I’ve written about it before. I find myself smitten and homesick, nostalgic for things I’m not sure I’ve ever seen or known. “Do I dream of heaven?” I ask.

I think I do.

Recently, while reading Things Unseen by Mark Buchanan, I found myself once again pondering my homesickness and wondering if these pangs are longings for a place I cannot see or experience yet. A heavenly Jerusalem.

“When God wants to carry a point with his children,” Emerson said, “He plants his argument into the instincts.” Our deepest instinct is heaven. Heaven is the ache in our bones, the splinter in our heart. Like the whisper of faraway waves we hear crashing in the whorls of a conch shell, the music of heaven echoes, faint, elusive, haunting, beneath and within our daily routines.

There you are, standing at a window, watching oak leaves flutter down from dark boughs, and without warning your whole body fills with a longing for something you can’t name, something you’ve lost but never had, that you’re nostalgic for yet don’t remember. You sense a joy so huge it breaks you, a sorrow so deep it cleanses.

Or in line at a store one day, you turn and look at a child who doesn’t notice you. The skin on her face curves down flushed and smooth along her cheekbones and creases into delicate folds at her eyes. There is a wild hope in those eyes, and her beauty pierces you in a way you don’t understand.

Or you listen to Ralph Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending and somehow it is both laughter and mourning, spring and winter, homecoming and exile. It makes you feel supple and playful and young and yet old, with brittle bones and trembling hands. And you wonder, How can this be?

This is how: You want to go home. The instinct for heaven is just that: homesickness, ancient as night, urgent as daybreak. All your longings—for the place you grew up, for the taste of raspberry tarts that your mother once pulled hot from the oven, for that bend in the river where your father took fishing as a child, where the water was dark and swirling and the caddis flies hovered in the deep shade—all these longings are a homesickness, a wanting in full what all these things only hint at, only prick you with. These are the things seen that conjure in our emotions the Things Unseen. “He has set eternity in the hearts of men,” the writer of Ecclesiastes said, “yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (3:11).

I think I’m finally beginning to understand it.

Yes, I dream of heaven. I’m homesick, homesick for a place I’ve never known. My loyalties aren’t to this earth, but to a kingdom to come. I love this world, this shadow kingdom, but it’s a love that makes me ache, which is just as it should be.

And there's a loyalty that's deeper
Than mere sentiments
And a music higher than the songs
That I can sing
The stuff of Earth competes
For the allegiance
I owe only to the Giver
Of all good things

I want to always notice the beauty and always ache with the hope of what is to come someday, someday, one day when all things are new and all is well with the world, the whole, whole world.


Rebecca September 7, 2009 at 9:32 AM  

Krista, this is beautiful. I know exactly what you mean. I've felt that ache in my heart when I see beauty too. I never thought of it as a longing for heaven, but I think you're absolutely right.

Shannon September 11, 2009 at 8:13 PM  

What a lovely, thought-provoking, encouraging post! The passage you used touched me, since I played "Lark Ascending" at my senior violin recital several years ago -- I still get a feeling of breathless, aching pain in my chest when I listen to it. It's so beautiful that it hurts.

Thank you for giving me a little "perspective" tonight! :-)

Your old Rambler buddy,

Blog Archive


The IDD Blog | Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial License | Dandy Dandilion Designed by Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates