As I type, I am sitting on my mom's front porch in Ohio. There are huge stretches of green rolling hills, birds chirping and fluttering around like I'm Snow White herself, hummingbirds buzzing around and pausing (but not really pausing) to refill their sugar supply, and the smell of peonies form a giant bouquet (I can never spell that word right the first time) twirling around my head. As I lift my head to stare out at the long ribbon of white fence that lines the country road her house perches aside, I think there may be no place on earth I feel more peaceful than right here.
That's the thing about Ohio for me, that most people can't seem to understand. To me, it has so much depth, so much sentimentality, that I love it, like no place I've known. It's weird how a place can do that really. Weird how just the sight of the city posing before me as we drive in from the airport on that stretch of highway in Kentucky, makes me feel both like I'm finally there and I've been punched in the stomach. Weird how the curve of road that goes in front of the city and leads to where we lived when we were first married makes me ache for those days. And totally weird how things like driving down a windy road with hills at dusk, windows down, music loud, and a canopy of green all around me catapults me right back to age 18 (which, admittedly was not that long ago...though it is getting further).
This is the place I fell in love, with Jesus, and my husband, figured out who I was, grew up, rebelled, learned to drive, walk, dance and spell. And it holds more memories for me than a high school yearbook. Admittedly, it is beautiful. There is a history here (especially along the river) that supercedes any of my own and tells stories of slaves escaping to freedom, and settlers learning how to live. And I love that part, the part that is laced through everything from the architecture to the trees. And speaking of the trees, there is air here that is so thick with the smell of green, that makes me claim (on poor authority) that this must be exactly the way Ireland looks and smells.
But of course all of that just bolsters the ache in my heart that remembers the early days of falling in love, and twists to know what my life would be like if it were in the cards for me to live here.
And I do wonder that....all. the. time.
This is how I feel, and then I think of God.
C.S. Lewis said this:
"These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited. "
He describes how all those longings, those sentimental feelings of days gone by, are really just our homesickness for heaven, for nearness to the God we were created to love and be with, and that if we were to actually go back, relive, or have those things that create that heartsick homesick feeling, we would find they really don't satisfy the way we imagined them to.
So when I think about those days, or this place, and feel that ache, I know it is not the reality of what I'm longing for, that it could never really satisfy me...it is only a shadow.
As I type, the lightning bugs are starting to light up the trees like late May's Christmas lights, the peonies still smell amazing, and there is a quiet all around that makes me feel like I'm submerged underwater. Tomorrow I will get on a plane, and end up in Colorado.
Where it is another kind of beautiful.
And while I'd really want to live here, the irony of the fact that someday I will think of Colorado with similar fondness and ache is not lost on me. That's the thing about this homesick feeling...it is always elusive. It will always evade us until that day when we are at home, with our Father...
...right where we belong, until then, I'll wait.