True confession: I sometimes still look at Target’s weekly ad online. I look at the clothes and shoes and DVDs on sale, and think about what I’d like to buy. Even worse, I sometimes go onto Entertainment Weekly’s website to see which new movies and TV shows are coming out. Yeah, I know, it’s silly and more than a little embarrassing!
Why do I do this? I don’t know. Maybe it’s to read something without having to grab my Spanish-English dictionary. Maybe it’s to think back on that life when I felt confident and comfortable and understood the rules. And, as goofy as this is probably going to sound, I think I may do it because I’m longing for a sense of the familiar, a sense of home.
When I was a freshman in college, my family moved from Calgary to Long Island. I left home and got on a train headed east towards Grand Rapids and Calvin College. My family moved to East Islip, NY, partway through that first semester.
When I went home for Christmas, I went to a place I’d never been before. I walked into a house I didn’t know, and put my suitcase on the bed in 'my' room. My mom had put my familiar bedspread on it, with all my stuffed animals. I can still remember that first night. Familiar furniture and things, my family there, and yet, I felt so very alone.
Long Island never did become home. Not because there weren’t lovely people there. Not because there weren’t lots of things about Long Island to love. No, it didn’t become home because I pretty much only spent a couple of weeks there a year. Not enough to really get to know a place.
I “visited” Long Island. Even the summer I lived there between my freshman and sophomore years of college was simply an extended visit.
My time here in Antigua has been an extended visit. I arrived knowing it was short-term. As I’ve shared, I’ve been so blessed to have found a home and a sense of community here. But, as rich and amazing as this summer has been (and continues to be!) I’ve known from Day One that it was temporary.
Now, I’m looking at three more weeks before I leave. Like my freshman year of college, I’ll be heading home to a place I’ve not really been before. Yes, I’ve been on two short-term trips to the D.R., but this is way, way different! For some reason, it is finally dawning on me that I’m really, truly not going back to Harrisonburg. My head knows this, but my heart is way behind in grasping it!
I’m a lot older than I was when I was a freshman in college, and I’ve moved a lot of times since then, so in some ways it’s easier to settle in and accept new surroundings. But, that eighteen year old who had trouble feeling at home is still part of me.
It took me a while to really feel at home in Harrisonburg. But once I did, oh, it was glorious! I remember driving home down I-81 from Washington D.C. after flying back from a trip somewhere. Looking out and up at the Blue Ridge Mountains. Getting off at Exit 247-A, and heading up crazy East Market Street… Turning the key in 623 Stonewall Drive, breathing in, knowing I was home.
I don’t want to just visit the Dominican Republic. I want the apartment I’m going to step into for the first time to become a place of joy and peace. I want the D.R. to be where I feel a sense of belonging. Where I have people who love me, and people I love. I want to get to a point where, after I’ve gone on a trip, I get a little thrill as I start seeing the familiar things. Where I breathe in… and I’m home.
I know this is not going to happen overnight. Maybe that’s why I’m apprehensive about it. I know how amazing it feels to be home - and, I know how lonely it feels to be out of place. But, I am reminded of how many others throughout our world are displaced each day. Unlike so, so many, I have a place to go to, and people in the D.R. who already know and love me.
I have the assurance that no matter what happens, I am never alone because the One who has been leading me, leads me still. He has called me to this home that is not yet home. He has promised never to leave me alone, and to continue to draw me to Himself until I am truly and completely Home forever. Until then, I pray I continue to breathe deeply of His love and grace.
And, I'll probably still check out the Target ad on occasion! After all, I am going to need bedsheets and a few other things! :O)