April 16, 2011 at 10:57pm
I had a disturbing dream. We were in Colorado Springs and the new owners of our house were away, so we crashed. The house kept changing, and was overrun with people. I kept screaming at people to go away and leave me alone. At one point, I was on the floor, face on those beautiful hardwood floors sobbing, “I just want my house back.”
All around me walls were changing, dropping, moving, and suddenly the bathroom opened onto a basketball court with a game in full session, with fans lining the stands screaming, clapping, stomping and whistling as the play moved from one end of the court to the other.
“Close the door!” I was yelling. Over and over, “Close the door! I just want my house back!”
I just want my house back. But do I really? Is my dream about wanting my house back? Or is it, more likely, about the stress of a constantly changing life and about the longing for what feels like home, wherever that might be. I am torn by a longing for my friends and the need to move on and to grab the life I have now. How? I find it is so difficult to make friends here. Is it me? Is there something different about this place?
I waited at Starbucks last night for someone who did not show up. I guess I got my wires crossed. As I sat there, I started a conversation with an older gentleman, an immigrant from somewhere like Turkey or Syria. We discussed the relative friendliness of the area. He said , his hands more expressive than his English, that there is a line on the map, and in this area people are busy and nice, but very hard to make friends with. He indicated that it is much easier in the northeast and not to take it personally. I told him that right now I am treating this as an extended vacation. I’m trying to see all the sights and enjoy it, for who knows how long we’ll be here.
After all, my job is temporary. My badge lets everyone know I am the “Temp”, and after 10 months, my phone still informs others in the office that “Larry” is calling. If sometimes it makes me feel like an outsider, in other ways it is a gift. I know that my job is temporary. I am constantly reminded that there is no permanence. As it turns out, every job I’ve ever had, in the end, has been temporary, and so is everyone else’s job, though most don’t know it. For that reason, they don’t save nearly enough money. We know our jobs are temporary, so we make choices now that we did not when we were younger. We rethink our expenses to see where to cut, and we limit our extravagances to make sure enough money is being put away for the coming time of joblessness.
This feeling of the temporary nature of life is unsettling. We long for permanence and stability, as I think is normal. I find it unnerving that we have no land we can call our own. That is a fairly universal thing, I would think. The stability of a society is often rated based upon levels of home ownership. We are tied to the soil in some way. Some escape this feeling of being tied to the land, but I have not. As I sit here this morning, I am reminded that we only really own the dirt in death. In that final repose, our bones are laid to rest in the ground, never to be removed.
There is a land where I belong, and where I shall have a home that shall never be taken away. It is where I shall know and be known. Many I know have gone there, but to go, you must leave this world behind, a passing that is not to be longed for until the time is upon us. So until that time, I remain a wanderer, lying on the floor crying for home. I need to accept that change is the state to accept. I need to make change my home state.
The Apostle Paul was a traveler. He went wherever God sent him, wherever there was a need for the gospel, where the church needed him. His heart longed for Rome, and when he got there it was to be a prisoner. He went wherever God wanted him to go. Was he ever lonely? Discouraged? Downhearted? I imagine so, but he had made a choice to follow after this Jesus the Christ and to serve him all his days.
I have made the same choice. I do not know where the future leads, I do not know what it holds. I may cry for home, but I long to be brave and courageous, to be where I am supposed to be and to find the work I am supposed to do, the lives that I am to build into. I so often feel as if I’m making no impact at all.
I was at the pond recently. Spring is evident everywhere, and on a warm sunny day, the turtles were warming themselves on the platform set in the middle of the pond for the benefit of terrapins and passing waterfowl. I walked around, noting how the wind occasionally stirred the water. One by one, the turtles left their platform with a splash, disappearing beneath the surface of the water. Ripples spread across the pond. The last little guy slipped into the now still water. Only his little head peaked above the water as he swam for his home under the viewing platform. Ripples from that tiny little creature spread in ever-widening circles. He was just going about his daily business, but the effects were spread from one end of the pond to the other. Lily pads shifted and water grasses moved.
When I feel insignificant and purposeless and wonder whether there is any impact from my life, it helps me to think on that turtle and the ripples spreading from his daily inconsequential journey. We do not know where our words or deeds will find themselves. We do not know the impact of the smallest of things we do. Perhaps it should also give me pause to think of how even the smallest of things that I do or say might find their way far beyond my view.
Perhaps I am both more and less significant than I think I am. It’s something to think on, at least. Perhaps the times when we think no one is paying attention are the times that will be remembered forever. More than forty years later, my memories of my first grade teacher are likely moments that she would prefer no one remember. For over forty years I have remembered her picking her nose with her long painted fingernails and flicking it on the floor. My first recollection of anyone with long painted nails is forever tied to nose-picking and flicking. Surely that is not what she would want.
It may not be any fine speeches, any good deeds or charitable acts that will be remembered. Instead it may be the unkind word I say to my husband in a fit of anger, or the rude retort to a slow waitress. Isn’t that a sobering thought!
Still, I do not need to worry about those things. I need to trust in my Creator, rest in his forgiveness, appealing to his mercy for I am a flawed, weak, sinful person who has been saved by a gracious God. I need to rely on the promptings of the Spirit in convicting me of sin, in reminding me when I must ask forgiveness. I need to leave the results and the impact to God.
In my own mind, all of this adds up to a coherent statement. The dream and the longing and wondering about my own significance, about belonging and longing for home. And, truth be told, in some ways, I truly am longing for our home. That home is gone, forever changed by the new owners, but we still miss that home. Part of me is laying on the floor, face to the hardwood, crying, “Let me go home.”
However, that is not the end. I do not stay on the floor. I will not allow myself to wallow in grief and loss. We need to move forward. Through my head run the promises that God will restore the years that the locust has stolen. I don’t know what that will look like. Perhaps that restoration isn’t for this life, but is for the life hereafter. What do I know of these things? I was not there when the earth was laid on its foundations; I was not there when the heavens were surveyed, when the morning stars were taught to sing. I was not there to see the storehouses filled with snow. I can’t even count the hairs on my own head. I am abiding in the shadow of the Almighty. It is a very safe place to be.