At the start of the week, Hope and I packed up my little Civic with too many books, a guitar, and some tennis balls, and headed toward the shore. I had made these plans back around the time when round three was finishing up, and as we drove away from our house, now several weeks later, I couldn't help but wonder if it was a bad idea. For as much as I wanted to get out of this house - away from the couch and the TV and all the crutches that have been propping me up for months now - I was unsure about my ability to exist out in another environment.
I knew as we drove away what I was afraid of. I was afraid of all the things I have been trying to drown out. All the voices I was letting everything else talk over. I was afraid to feel the real weight of the longing that has been screaming ever louder in my chest.
I was afraid to finally sit with it all. But I knew it was time.
* * *
We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.
~ C.S. Lewis
I don't think I've ignored my pain in the last few months, but I certainly have tried to put a stopper in it as best I could. I've been afraid to feel its full depth. Afraid to unleash it for fear of how strongly I would feel it - of the damage that would result. No one likes to feel pain, and I really wasn't interested in taking in the full amplification of my current state.
But something about the beach makes it easier to come undone. Sometimes I think God designed the oceans for that purpose - to help us clean out all that needs to be left behind. I mean - is it total coincidence that both tears and the sea are comprised of salt water?
And so for four days, I sat at the shore and sobbed. I sobbed over how profoundly lonely I am. I sobbed over fear of the future. I sobbed over my bald head and my still sore body. I sobbed over all the prayers that haven't been answered and that now officially seem lost. I sobbed over the unidentifiable longing that has been growing stronger as the days go on. I sobbed and I let it go and I asked God to guide me to wherever it is He would have be go next. That He would use me to make something beautiful out of all this ash. That whatever it was He so clearly placed on my heart - this thing I have been searching for for so long - would be found.
* * *
By the second night there, I knew I needed someone who understood. So Hope and I piled in the car and drove awhile to sit with a friend who understood more than she should have to. And for the first time in months, I shared dinner with someone that didn't require explanation. With someone who - unfortunately - could finish my sentences. Where we talked about it all but not really, because we didn't have to.
As I sat there, something settled in my bones - a feeling of what has been missing, but it was something I couldn't name. Whatever it was that existed in that space - it was what I have been longing for.
* * *
By the last night there, I knew I needed to go home. But what I needed wasn't my house. What I needed was the company of those who make me feel like I belong. Where I know the door is always open and I'll always be met with open arms.
We stood around the counter as the sunset through the window, talking about God and church and faith and the confusion that comes with the struggles we are all given, a huge bowl of guacamole serving at home base. Thats what home always is in this place - a never ending supply of expansive sunsets and guacamole, deep conversation and love, music and grace. And peace. Always peace.
My heart settled in and breathed for the first time in awhile and the tears finally stopped and everything felt okay for a little wisp of time.
And standing there at that counter laughing at a really bad joke, I realized what the longing I have been feeling is for.
Its the longing for home.
* * *
Driving back today, it made sense. I've been searching for home my whole life. I never felt it in the house I occupied as a child. And truthfully it was never really in the places that housed my marriage. And while I have tried to create it here in this house as best I could, it hasn't happened yet.
Its what I'm still searching for. And the place I know God intends for me to be.
What I don't know is what home means for me. Will I find it in a person or a place? Can I create it on my own or does it necessarily require a family? If I haven't found home in Richmond in all these years, can it even be here at all? And if not, where will God have me look next?
I've been in homes. Places - like where I gorged myself on Indian food Tuesday night - have had that palpable feeling of being home to someone (or someones). You can feel it when you walk into them. They are homes created by love.
But I also have felt home with a select few people, like I experienced on Wednesday night. Those people who gift me with security just by their very presence, regardless of where we might be. In this way too, I suppose, home is created by love.
So what does the home God has me searching for look like?
I don't know.
But its time to find it.