We’ve been back in the US from Britain a little over a month now and I don’t even know where to begin to wrap up these reflections on our sojourn. Mental-emotional exhaustion for me. Some book research and visits with relatives for Rae. A need to return home to our roots for both of us. And so, I reflect the best way I can: I write.
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The fast-paced ennui of the many gorgeous, young, cell-phone-hooked yuppies of London.
Studying for hours, cumulatively, the labyrinthine London underground laid out like concrete intestines, carved deep in her belly.
The lazy daylight square of Parsons Green, equally home to business professionals, babies in prams, and teens with ‘tude.
Buskers. So. Many. Buskers.
Abbey Road Studios.
Dozens of progressive-meets-traditional pubs and coffee shops in which to write.
The art of the leisurely stroll.
Great coffee utterly ruined by the British obsession with milk-enhancement rather than cream as is the custom of the gods.
Those sublime secondary roads that snake their way through rural Britain just wide enough for making memories.
Red phone boxes.
Box-y black cabs.
Old souls in older cemeteries in still older ground.
Castles, cathedrals and crypts, each more inspiring and complex than the one before.
The casual shrug with which many Britons waft in and out of their own history, thousands of years in the making.
The jarring juxtaposition of dozens of duck-like tourists in full obedience to their tour master waddling in and out of view and my grumpy expectation of thin place moments.
The incredible food (yes, you heard that right.)
The surprising ease of conversation with strangers.
The equally surprising willingness of officials and total strangers to help with directions.
Being charged to take a piss.
Outlandish entry fees for…well, everything.
Quiet rambles in Ambleside; a place for writers.
Welsh roads best described as stone hallways.
The literary orgasm that is Hay-on-Wye.
The British genius for fitting lots in a little space (every man’s dream).
The Lake District (except for the tourists).
Tourists treading on ghosts in Lindisfarne.
Scotland’s insistence on its own canvas of new green framed with old stone.
The sleepy, but deceptively hip, Dunbar.
Portobello Beach. Bright sun. White Scots. Take sunglasses.
Edinburgh – an evening of good beer and better tales: literary pub tour.
Pitlochry, in the bosom of the Highlands.
Playing bagpipes where no one is surprised at the idea. Yawn, another piper.
In a word, Skye.
The many dear souls who drew us there, would keep us here, and call us back.
All of the above with the love of my life who gets it whenever I speak of the same.
We’re now back in a home needing repairs, jobs needing our attendance, a financial picture a little less rosy than before, and people needing our presence and attention. Admittedly, I’m left with as many questions as I had weeks ago. What does my soul most need right now? How do I best heal from wounds both new and old? What is, for me, home? Should I ever find that, what do I do about it? What, if any, are the things I should be asking of myself?
It should come as no surprise, but I’m not the only person asking these questions! In fact, even many of those with whom we shared time and friendship find themselves at similar crossroads. I dare say that the old adage, “home is where the heart is” offers little respite in the complexities of a soul seeking the Sabbath-rest of home. It is far too kitschy and hallmark to provide the foundation upon which to build one’s life. It is dismissive of the not-so-hallmark realities of daily survival and the attendant responsibilities thereof.
And, it doesn’t quite reach the more exalted notion of Christ’s own exile from all he once knew to come among those longing for home. His “homelessness” brought me back home – in all places, at all times.
As I grow older and, in glacial terms, wiser, I am led ever further down a path of acceptance of whatever is. It is not the hiraeth-angst of what was and can never be again, or the wishful thinking of what could be. One’s deepest reality in which is held the greatest potential for satisfaction is in the minutiae of these moments, this breath, that one.
This was so much more than merely a trip to bountiful for me, adventure of a lifetime for Rae. Britain was like walking through our front door into a well-known living room. Plunking ourselves down in a favorite chair that perfectly knows our shape, our habits, our proclivities, our favorite beverages, and hands us a book. It was Mom calling from the kitchen that dinner is ready. It was listening to up-to-the-minute gossip at the church bake sale.
But it was still more. It exposed an ongoing work of God, leading me toward full acceptance of my own search for home in order to help others begin that same journey. Now, it is being utterly content to remain in discontent for the sake of those around me. It is to be like Christ, the exiled and abused one, whose only way back home was to suffer the pain of our homelessness.
Home is wherever I am willing to acknowledge my deepest home, the heart of God. In which case, I’ve always been home.
I just didn’t know it yet.