Saturday, August 25, 2012

Chapter 16 - "Leaving Home"

It was 1:30 a.m. In a few hours we would be traveling from southern to northern Mexico to renew our visas. I walked down the long hall leading from my bedroom where my husband was sleeping, past the three bedrooms where our eight children had finally gone to sleep. The ten suitcases lining each side of the hallway were a sure indication that someone would soon be leaving home. Passing my at-last-clean kitchen, I stepped down into our living room, walked around the coffee table, touching my piano for the last time until we returned. Tears flooded my eyes. We were indeed leaving home.
That scene took place many, many years ago…probably even thirty, but I can still feel the emotion welling up inside me…just the thoughts of leaving my comfortable routine, if anything can possibly remotely be described as comfortable with a noisy household of eight children. But home was my comfort zone…MY old washer; MY worn carpet; MY faltering refrigerator.
Thirty years later, I struggle to hide my tears as I hug my children and grandchildren who have come to my house to tell me good bye…again. I had just flown in two days before, had unpacked and packed again, and now I was leaving everything I held dear…my children, my grandchildren, my home, my church.
I hate leaving home. If it weren’t for the fact that I think I might be a blessing to some lady who’s about to quit; a pastor’s wife who needs encouraging; a distraught young mother, I would never leave home.
In the past few days, I’ve carried in my purse four different kinds of currencies from four different countries; I’ve struggled through security, boarded and de-boarded eight different planes; and met an Olympic trainer in London.
Leaving home…even the sound of that phrase conjures up almost depressing emotions for me.
There’s the “did I get everything?” although I make and check meticulous lists; “am I taking too much?” “Will my luggage be overweight?” “Will someone be at the airport to meet me?” “Will I make all my connections?”
What is there about home? For me, it stands for security; comfort; routine; the familiar…everything that leaving home takes away from me.
I sit here this morning, thousands and thousands of miles from my home…another continent, another time zone, another culture. My thoughts have crossed the ocean this morning to what my loved ones are doing near my home. While I begin my day, theirs is ending. While I sleep they work and play and study.
Homesickness to me is a real sickness…one as real as the flu, or chicken pox, and almost as painful…at least emotionally.
My homesickness is cushioned, though. I’m here with my other children and my other grandchildren.
What is there in this story for you? Do I simply want a homesick mother to be able to finally find someone with whom she can identify? I think there’s something more here…something I’ve learned during the past two weeks since leaving home.
1.      I’ve learned to make different comfort zones, a different “normal.” I packed and brought with me certain things that make me feel secure, even though I’m in a different home, on a different continent; in a different culture. Things like my Bible, my prayer book, my journals, my brush and comb; my toothbrush and toothpaste; my pens and note paper…these go in my carry-on, so that if I have a canceled flight, there can still be a certain normal feeling, an area I can still control in my upside-down day. This provides security when I have 11-hour layovers in an airport; and on the plane, I pass the hours reading and writing.
2.      I take my routine with me. Does that sound strange? Maybe you’re leaving home to go on vacation, and you’re looking forward to it. To leave routines and schedules, can be dangerous. While there are times when I do have to leave my normal routines, it is usually because someone else has changed it. For example, in a few days I will be going to the hospital to await the birth of my granddaughter. I will leave my home very early in the morning, and will return late that night. I will be completely out of my routine. I didn’t ask for that change, but I accept it as a healthy change. I have a very comfortable routine for reading my Bible and praying in the morning. Unless I’m willing to get up at 3:00 in the morning the day my granddaughter comes into the world, and because I will be recovering from jet lag, I plan to take my comfortable routine with me, and settle for a quiet place in the corner of a coffee shop later in the day.
3.      Be flexible. I’m sitting at a desk about 10,000 miles away from my office this morning. I’m juggling interruptions, delightful though they be…my toddler grandson loves opening the drawers of his big brother’s desk I’m using these days. So I pull him onto my lap and enjoy a Mimi Moment. After my devotions and housework routine, I settle back down at my desk…at home or abroad…and write for one hour. If within that hour my grandson needs my attention, I must be flexible enough to either say, “Oh, well, there’s always tomorrow.” Or I can add a few minutes onto my hour. My prayer time at home includes a 36-minute walk up and down my hall, no matter how full my bedrooms are with guests. When I’m away from home, that isn’t possible, because my hosts have other routines. So instead of my prayer time being a very structured 36-minute prayer walk, my prayer time includes holding my normally active grandson early in the morning while looking out the window at village life; or waiting in the car while my son runs a 30-minute errand. Who cares that it’s 5:00 in the afternoon, and I’m just now praying for my grandchildren to do well in their studies today? Where they are, their school day is just beginning.
4.      Leaving home can bring an adventure dimension into your life. Don’t resist change. Look at leaving home as a learning experience. Try to maintain a positive attitude. If you’re a young mother, you probably can’t relate to this lesson, because you would leave home in a heartbeat, if it meant leaving the tiring routine of mothering and keeping house. But there are still lessons, little mother, in here that you can glean from what I’m telling you.
But there’s another kind of “leaving home” I’m thinking about this morning. I’m thinking of my husband who “left home” almost eight years ago from our bed in our home. What did it feel like? Was he tied to his earthly home? Was there a struggle to stay? Silly thought here: Is he homesick for his earthly home, for me this morning? Do saints in Heaven relate to a past?
Since leaving home a few weeks ago, a dear friend near my home left his home, and is in Heaven this morning. Was his an abrupt jerking away that took him to his Heavenly Home?
I’m enjoying my “home-away-from-home” feeling this morning, because after a while, you become familiar with your surroundings. Things that seemed strange to you upon your arrival away from home, now seem normal, and are becoming comfortable. In some ways, I will miss this “other home” where I’ve been the past days, when I return to my own home.
Of all the things I do, all the sacrifices I make, “leaving home” is by far the greatest and most painful.
But “This World is Not My Home” must be my theme. This holding on to things, and people, and surroundings must be held very lightly to my heart. Even as I do when preparing to leave home…making plans for that “other home,” I must also while I’m preparing to leave my earthly home for my Heavenly one, “lay up treasures in Heaven.”
Does what I do today have eternal value? Is that what makes dying so painful? Is it the dying that is so painful? Or is the leaving home that hurts so much? The “I’m going to miss you” is what I heard so much when Daddy was leaving home for Heaven. His greatest dread was waiting for Mother once he arrived.
“This world is not my home I'm just passing through,
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me from Heaven's open door,
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore.”

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