Have you ever been homesick?
What came to mind when you read that?
Did you think of the home you grew up in? Are you thinking about how you’d rather be at home now than at work? Do you even have something to be homesick for or about? We all come from some kind of home, even a bad one, which always plants the foundational seed of a possible and ideal paradise.
And it points forward, urging us toward the realization that this taste of a union might actually be true.
We all want a home. Not a house, but a home. That feeling of wanting to be home is homesickness.
The word homesick usually connotes something sad or nostalgic, an emptiness that looks either backward or forward for satisfaction. When you're homesick, you might miss familiar things like your family, friends, pets, house, or neighborhood. You can miss something as simple as your bed or the tree outside your window.
Isn’t this a major theme in many of our favorite stories?
Think of Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ.
Or Sassy, Shadow, and Chance in Homeward Bound.
Or Jesus’ parable about the prodigal son.
Or the sacred story that is our faith.
Think about it: God’s story begins with the original blessing in Genesis 1 and ends the same way in Revelation 22. The stories between those bookends are ones about home in one way or another—a people striving to return home to God.
We all have this inner restlessness that urges us on to the risks and promises of home. Often, though, we overlook this restlessness or try our best to avoid it. It is too difficult or takes too much work to create a home, especially when it is a home within.
What I am referring to is what many have deemed as a God-sized hole in all of us, waiting to be filled. This hole creates a dissatisfaction that only God’s grace and love can satisfy. Like the son in the prodigal story, we try to fill this restlessness with money, adventures, and other numbing addictions, diversionary tactics, or detrimental distractions.
Or to put it another way: we do everything we can to stay away from home.
I encourage you to go home, to return to yourself, your true selves, the part of you that is affirmed and loved by God.
On this journey home, which is very much so a spiral and not a straight line, know you aren’t alone. We are all created with an inner drive and necessity that sends all of us looking for our True Selves.
This is what it means to work out our salvation.
Subsequently this is what it means to be home—when we discover that union we share with God.
Perhaps that feeling you can’t shake of being homesick is less so about a physical place and more so about being attentive to the you you miss.
We can be homesick in our own skin or we can be at home.
As Thomas Merton puts it, perhaps we have a choice in the matter:
We can be ourselves or not, as we please. We are at liberty to be real, or to be unreal. We may be true or false, the choice is ours. We may wear now one mask and now another, and never, if we so desire, appear with our own true face.