Last night the sitcom character said, “I was lost. So I went home.” And just like that there were tears in my eyes. That word – home – stirred me. Buechner advises paying attention to tears when they appear. Then just this morning, reading Harrison’s Letters to Yesenin, the line: “And daydreams and hustling, the fantasies and endless work that get you from one to the other, only to discover that you really want to go home.” That word again, and tears followed.
The goofy thing is I don’t know where home is right now. I live in Colorado. We’re originally from Arkansas. I dream dreams of Montana. Are all those places on the map home in some sense? Surely. My wife feels like home to me, as do my children. The Evangelical Chorus, always just off to my side stage left sings, “You must find your home in God.” I’ve heard that before, many times, and I confess I’ve never quite known what that means. It sounds good, sounds very spiritual. And also slickery. Yes, yes, I know the Lewis quote: “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probably explanation is that we were made for another world.” Lewis bugs me.
Recently my wife asked me if I like to stay in my melancholy. “Well, yes. Don’t you?”
Yesterday I watched the video of a blonde woman with Chiclet white teeth and insect arms compare Donald Trump to the Good Samaritan. It was horrible. Earlier this week I sat and stared at the image of a father and his daughter face-down dead in the Rio Grande. That was worse, although the two scenes bleed into one another, both lurid variations on a theme of home.
The lilacs in our front yard bloomed last week, late but luscious. We feared they’d been winter-killed. But no, thank God. Yet now our singular front yard tree will not leaf. There are green shoots sprouting from the trunk, but the branches are all bare. Maybe it’s a metaphor. Maybe like the lilacs it’s just late. But it’s almost July. Metaphor or not, I’m worried.
Come Sunday, June 30th, we celebrate 29yrs of marriage. Our plan is to go to church and slip out just after Communion so we can make our brunch reservation at this gorgeous little place near a creek. Body, blood, brunch – in that order – thanks be to God. I look at wedding photos and wonder if I’d tell that clean shaven boy to do anything different. Definitely save better for your kids’ college, pal, but apart from that no, let your life unfold before as it will. It is a good life, one filled to the brim with the “beautiful and terrible” (Buechner, again). One that will take you from Arkansas to Colorado, and who knows, possibly one day to Montana. A life laden with gifts of wife and children and dog and friends and family and poetry and lilacs brought back from the brink. And also melancholy…I find comfort that the last four letters of that word spell holy, a word with cousins like hallow and whole, and home.
I didn’t realize that staying in my melancholy was optional. In fact, I have little Melancholy Gnomes that come and polish it up 3-4 times per year. Nothing worse than a dull, dirty melancholy.
Yes! John, thank you for the gift of these words. There is no place like home – and I don’t know where it is. “Home” is my word, my re- occurring word, for 2019.
I step in and out
of my own private melancholy
blessed to have your words
echo my heart
again and yet again
I’ve often thought of this vague yearning for a place I cannot name, as a longing for perfection; the perfection I was intended for, which will someday be my true home, but not yet. Living in the “not yet” is what you are describing, I would say. The Welsh have a word for it … “hiraeth” – a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past.
I wonder if this is part of my feeling so unmoored after becoming an empty nester…I long for home.
Good piece…good comments too. The melancholy. The ” home” that calls me from somewhere else.
Oh my, John, you touched that place again, that current that runs through me, nameless for the most part . Thank you again.
Having experienced my home, church, & community disseminated in the Camp Fire in Paradise, CA last November, your words are especially fragrant and full of depth. “Home” has become a mystery and won’t be had.
I must confess that I may have put too much into that feeling of trying to find home. As if I can pull all the baby chicks that I meet along the way and crown them children of mine or meet a fellow writer who mentioned a writing fools fantasy and then never came to answer my eager hearts open armed response of “Yes”. I have fallen in love with a building and called it home, not once but several times only to have it removed from me as soon as the words of gratitude left my lips to Gods ears. Jesus never had a home and perhaps that was my lesson. So now I hold loosely the new home, the new friends, the new dreams. I find if I hold too closely then the tears will come.
Your words are powerful and thought provoking. Thank you
And now I’m the one paying attention to my tears…
Ah, just right. Thank you for this, John.
And so many in our world have no semblance of home. Those of us who have a building to call home have the privilege to then look within to find another home. Thank you John. Grateful to see the holy in the melancholy.