As a missionary, it’s natural to be homesick sometimes. It’s a human emotion that everyone feels sometimes. But it’s weird for me to dig my spade in the dirt of my heart and excavate my own roots. As I dig, I search for the remains of the life I used to lead. I find bits and scraps and shards of my former life in the States and I marvel at what used to be important to me. Like an archeologist who reconstructs the daily lives of spectors and ghosts of lost civilizations, I look through the remains of the woman I used to be.
Most of my sifting and sorting of memories begins with “once upon a time”. We have moved internationally 5 times. Sometimes I feel like my “carbon footprint” is wide and ample as I leave a wake of clutter behind me with each move I make. I don’t know how many times I’ve said to myself, “Once upon a time, I used to have a [fill in the blank with the random household item]. What ever happened to that?” It’s been sold in a garage sale, abandoned in a drawer, or given away to family and friends. For example, I use to have an apple-peeler-corer. I have no clue where that thing landed ultimately.
But it’s not the loss of a random garlic press or knick-nack that causes the sore lump in my throat. It is the uprooted feeling of longing for HOME, whatever and wherever that may be. Most of the time it’s a vague sense of having lost something. Sometimes it’s the sharp pang of knowing that my whole family is getting together in my parents’ back yard on a summer night and I’m far, far away. My roots ache for soil.
Last Christmas we were fortunate enough to be able to go home for 3 weeks. I wasted no time in pressing my thirsty roots down deep into the soil of home. I didn’t care that I would transplant again in 3 weeks. I needed to suck up the nourishment of family and friends. I spent literally hours and hours reconnecting with old friends over cups of coffee or slices of pizza. I never looked at my watch, I never counted calories. I just soaked it all up.
It was a miraculous blessing to me to discover that my friends had not forgotten me, that they were still interested in me. And for my part, I wanted to hear every detail of the past 2 years of their lives as well. I wanted to see their kids’ school pictures, to hear the news from their latest job change, to listen to them share about a sermon they heard recently. I soaked it all up and stored it in my roots for the long, dry summer days ahead. I was happy that they made room for me in their lives again. I was so pleased that they made room for me in their schedules. My roots wiggled happily in the space my friends created for me.
When we finally returned to Costa Rica and the kids and I once again picked up the school books and backpacks, I was exhausted but happy. Knowing that I was still a part of home, even though I’m far away, was the best cure for a homesick heart.