"I just want to go home."
I barely catch them, these words. Whispers. They linger, and for a moment she looks as though she didn't speak at all, that I heard her soul's cry in silence. We sit, she and I, and her children climb across our knees, laughing and boisterous like little boys are, and the silence swirls, inviting and deafening, and tears fall.
"I don't know if I mean home home, like heaven, or that I want to go back and be a little girl in a world where everything is okay and life doesn't hurt. I'm tired of fighting to stay alive."
Caleb pounds me with his cotton elephant and shrieks with glee, two ivory teeth glistening with laughter. His mother weeps. "I think I miss the idea of what should be, what should've been." Eyes gather her babies with love and longing. "Then I feel guilty. I want it all to stop ~ I want it all to go away."
Sometimes silence respects aching in mysterious ways, with quiet prayers cast heavenward rather than hesitant, awkward condolences. At least, I hope so as I fling them now, hurling quick, desperate pleas to the Keeper of our Eternal Home.
She gulps breath, dries eyes on sleeve. I'm reminded of another sleeve: a hem, dusty, crowd-stained, grasped in desperate hands so long ago. She speaks once more: "I don't know how to make it end. I just know that it has to."
Priceless, these fragments of a broken heart. Warm with crimson traces of a thousand untold stories, she hands them over; my fingers drip, receiving. My own heart weeps. I think of other hands that bled so long ago and I share the burden; I hold the splinters close, and pray.
Like an aging veteran or rape survivor carries memory in flesh,* we have home memory. For those of us whose thoughts of home are bittersweet, who yearn to replace, relive, and redeem, the emptiness can be especially sharp. We are born with it, this innate beacon that draws us, calls us, knows what should be. We are created for home. It is no coincidence, I think, that the very idea of wholeness embedded in homeostasis begins with it. Home. What we were made for, where our heart goes and spirit returns.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit. (John 3:7-8)
Birth is a journey made in darkness, in travail and aching, in rawness and blood. He launches us in secret, our skin and bone, and in another shadowed womb, He completes us, makes us beautiful and whole in the fullness of time. The wind blows where it wishes. Who is to say when we are finished being born? Our Redeemer doesn't miss a tear and doesn't waste our pain, and it is in this unwasted aching we find grace. Sometimes the labor is long, yet with pain comes life. Birth brings us home.
But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the LORD your God . . .” (Isaiah 43:1-3a)
*Note: graphic and potentially triggering link appropriate for mature readers. Please view with discernment.
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