Longing for Home

    Have you ever stood in awe of something? Ever had those moments where your heart is struck with wonder and joy and for the briefest of moments you feel as if you are about to finally grasp some great and profound truth only to have it fade to the edges of your mind, where you have to struggle and wrestle to bring it forth long enough to really ponder what it even was?

    Moments when you stand by a beautiful mountain lake, listening to the wind through the trees and gazing in awe at the beauty of it all and for a second, you have a feeling, that you cannot quite put words to, it is both perfect, and peace all wrapped up in joy, and in an instant the fullness of it has passed.

   Or perhaps you are gathered about the table, with the ones you love most, and you look upon their faces as they talk and laugh and for a second that feeling rushes in, of a perfect love, and a peace you cannot describe and a sense of rightness, of knowing that this, this right here, this fleeting second is how's it's all supposed to be. And as fast as you grasped hold it is gone again, leaving you with such a longing that it near takes your breath away.

  I call those moments glimpses of heaven, and the aftermath of them is longing for home.. Those moments when through the dark mirror of sin and  brokenness we for a second glimpse so briefly and so imperfectly the real beauty, the real love and peace and perfection that God intended for mankind, before we turned it all into one big hot mess.

 We all have memories of home, memories of the place where we perhaps felt most safe and at peace, memories of childhood where we ran through grassy meadows and we laughed and we had not a care in the world. They differ with everyone. The nostalgic longing for home may be for a place, it may or may not be the place of your childhood, it may be a person or a time, but we all long for it. We all want to go home. The trouble is the feelings are hard to put words to, and the place, that home we are searching for is often not even understood fully by us, even though we are the ones longing for it. And when we try and go back to that physical place, or that time where we believe home was at we find something missing.

 "......it is when he comes home that he recognizes most poignantly that he is, at a deep level of his being, homeless, and whatever it is that is missing, he will spend the rest of his days longing for it and seeking to find it."Frederick Buechner

  For me, those perfect moments, or perfect seconds, because often they do not last very long, are moments where I see a tiny sample, an imperfect sample, like a child's drawing of Disney World would not come close to equaling the reality of Disney World, of the wonder that God has in store for those who believe. For a brief second I catch a glimpse of home, my true home. Those glimpses make me yearn, with a deep and even painful yearning for the reality of that place, for the eternity of that place.

  Just as the moments of wonder and awe, the moments of love and peace create in me a yearning for home, so do the moments of despair. In the dark times the mirror is black, and I see no reflection of home, no sign of how things were meant to be, I see only how they are. I see the brokenness, the grief and despair, the death and destruction and bitter disappointment. When earthly hope is crushed it leaves only that yearning, a desperate yearning for home. This yearning, the one that comes in the dark times is a heavier yearning. A pressed down feeling, where you can only raise your eyes to the heavens and whisper "come Lord Jesus", where your eyes, for the moment lose the ability to see any beauty in the ugliness around you, you see instead only the brokenness of it all and in that desperate brokenness you just long so heavily for home.

 The older I get the more I yearn for home, and the more I fully understand that home is where Jesus is. The glimpses of light and grace I see in the earthly home I now live in, and in the faces of the ones I love on those brief moments when all is well, and in the beauty of the flowers, the mountains and the bright blue sky are only poor reflections of what He intended when he spoke it all into being and are only poor and dim glimpses of what He has in store for me on that day when I at last get to go home. 

  Frederick Buechner describes a moment when he and his family were at SeaWorld and where they experience one of those moments, one of those glimpses of heaven that brought tears to his eyes, and to the eyes of his family who were with him. He writes:

 "We shed tears because we had caught a glimpse of the Peaceable Kingdom and it had almost broken our hearts. For a few moments we had seen Eden and been part of the great dance that goes on at the heart of creation. We shed tears because we were given a glimpse of the way life was created to be and is not. We had seen why it was the "the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy" when the world was first made, as the book of Job describes it and of what it was that made Paul write, even when he was in prison and on his way to execution, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice." We had had a glimpse of part at least of what Jesus meant when He said "Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh".

 The world is full of darkness, but what I think we caught sight of .............was that at the heart of darkness-----whoever would have believed it?---there is a joy unimaginable. The world does bad things to us all, and we do bad things to the world and to each other and maybe most of all to ourselves, but in that dazzle of bright water as the glittering whales hurled themselves into the sun, I believe what we saw was that joy is what we belong to Joy is home, and I believe the tears that came to our eyes were more than anything else homesick tears. God created us in joy and created us for joy, and in the long run not all the darkness there is in the world or in ourselves can separate us finally from that joy, because whatever else it means to say that God created us in His image, I think it means that even when we cannot believe in Him, even when we feel most spiritually bankrupt and deserted by Him, His mark is deep within us. We have God's joy in our blood" Frederick Buechner's  Secrets in the Dark “The Great Dance,”

 

 This morning as I write these words my heart longs for home. Home is where Jesus is, and were I only able to sit on the outskirts of heaven and view Him from a distance, were that all that was promised and no more could be hoped for, that would be enough and I would be content. I want to see Him, I want to fellowship with Him, I want to depend entirely and completely on Him, I want to run my race well for Him, I want to trust Him more fully, love Him more truly and place all my hope and expectations upon Him and Him alone. Home is where Jesus is. I try, sometimes with desperation, to create that home here on earth, or at least a child's drawing of it. I fail constantly in that attempt and I am so very often broken and discouraged when it all goes wrong.

  Jesus is "my hope and stay" and everything else I hope in, everything else that my expectations are placed upon, falls short, disappoints and ultimately leaves me empty and yearning for that which I cannot quite put words to......longing for home.....glimpses of heaven.

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You're the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I'll fall on You
Jesus, You're my hope and stay

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

You're my one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You



Why I Love New Mexico

    I remember clearly the first time I flew into New Mexico. Newly married and returning from military service in England, we had decided to live in my husband’s home state. Here I was, flying in to meet a large family, of which I knew nothing and they knew nothing of me. I was nervous. Would they accept me, would I like them, would they like me? I was so terrified that first day, walking into my mother in laws home, surrounded by all these beautiful women, and me feeling like I was not what they would have chosen for my husband. That feeling of course was all me, everyone treated me well, but it was for certain a scary time for me. I had come from a small household, a very private one and now I was thrust into this enormous noisy family.

 (Albuquerque from the air)

 I was born and raised in western North Carolina, a land of green grass, tall trees and thick forests. I had just spent the last six years of my life in England, a land of even more brilliant green, with rolling green hills everywhere you looked. One had to dig into the dirt to even see a hint of brown there. Now here I was, looking out the window at tall majestic mountains and brown earth, with hardly a hint of trees except along the huge brown river flowing through Albuquerque.

(Western North Carolina, Great Smokey Mountains)

  Yet there was something about this place that spoke to my soul. It has taken many years for me to even get close to understanding why this place is home in my soul, but I am beginning to understand.

 New Mexico is a land of hidden treasure. One of the first camping trips my husband took me on upon arriving here was to Lagunitas. As we were driving there he told me of how wonderful this place was and how much I was going to love it. Inside I was skeptical, for all around me I saw open mesa, scrub brush and twisted pinion trees, and no real shade in sight for as far as I could see. We turned off the main road and began to travel across the mesa, we passed a lake that had not one place of shade, and inside I was disappointed, thinking I was facing a camping trip out in the sun and wind without shade or shelter. We began to climb and entered the canyon. Surrounded by aspen trees and at last we arrived at our destination, several small lakes, cascading down the canyon, surrounded by a forest. In the midst of open prairie and scrub brush and sun beaten brown is hidden this oasis of green.

 ( One of the Lagunita's Lakes)

 New Mexico hides its treasures. At first sight it is an unappealing land, especially to those born in greener places. But if you open your eyes, if you truly behold, you will see the deep and vibrant beauty of New Mexico.

 There are spiritual aspects to its beauty that speak to my soul. As I walk along the mesa near my home, I see the twisted bushes, the tiny flowers that bloom for a day and are dried up by the sun, the cactus plants, the owls in their brown dirt burrows, and I see God and His grace. Life for me has been similar to a dry and twisted bush. Some of it has been hard, a fight to survive, a struggle to grow, a longing for something to wet my dry thirsty soul, but looking back I see that my life was watered, with all that I needed, and that wisdom comes through trials and beauty comes from adversity. It may not be beauty as the world sees it, with a fresh unblemished face, perfect makeup and a 10+ body, that beauty is superficial,  but adversity brings beauty to the soul, if you let it, if you bend in the wind, if you grasp tight to the ground, if you reach to the heavens and cry out for water. It is not easy, many shrivel up and die, many become bitter and angry and hostile, but out of sorrow can come joy, out of struggle can come abundant life.

(Twisted Pinon Tree)

(Evening Primrose blooming on the mesa)

(Mesa near my home)

 

(Burrowing Owl)

  There are a multitude of references to the desert in the Bible.      

  Jesus went to a desert place to pray. God spoke to Moses from the burning bush in a desert land. The children of Israel wandered in a dry and thirsty land for many years before being led into the promise land. God says that he will turn the dry and dusty land into a land flowing with milk and honey.

  North Carolina is where I was born, a piece of my earthly roots shall ever remain there, but New Mexico is the home of my heart. I expect to live here all my days, and to rest my earthly remains in the brown dirt of New Mexico.