Friday, March 28, 2008

Nostalgic or Homesick?

I read the following in Christian Century, quoted from Susan J. Matt writing in the Sept. '07 Journal of American History:

"Homesickness is longing for a lost place and nostalgia is longing for a lost time."

I have often experienced longing for a lost place and have thought to myself that I am unheimlich, or out of place, without a home. In very recent years, that feeling has receded. As I've grown older, I've recognized that the place I long for doesn't really exist, at least not in any sustained way. I've simply caught glimpses of it, or experienced fragments of it, the little pieces of the Kingdom of God that have penetrated into our world, often in unlikely places and like oases surrounded by oceans of desert.

I associate Kingdom of God with my early childhood, with a place nobody would mistake for Paradise. And with a high-ceiling, dilapidated apartment I shared with a roommate my senior year of college. I think we expend a great deal of effort trying to recapture our KOG moments, to recreate and refashion them. For example, I wanted to share the English Lake District with my family, in part because of a morning there in a youth hostel's kitchen experiencing a deeply-felt moment of peace and well-being as sunlight (an weather phenomenon to be cherished in England!) came in through windows that lined three sides of the big room.

We make pilgrimages to places that have such layers of holiness that we feel the presence of the Kingdom of God. We bask in that peace. I think it is sad that in our present day, we are so prone to want to tear down and rebuild anything more than 20 years old. It takes time for sacred spaces to emerge. And we need to be able to go back, reconnect with our homes.

Do you have places that especially touch you?

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