This afternoon, I stood in a silent reading room in front of the massive gilded window that overlooks the park, as the sunset light poured across its pane…and cried.
Sure, it is the end of the semester and I’ve been sitting in this same room since Saturday morning with only returning to my apartment to sleep. But it isn’t the fatigue or my looming deadlines that has me wrought. I’m homesick.
I left the comfort of Southern California for Tacoma, Washington when I was 18. I was eager but scared beyond belief to start over. Five years later, I drove away from the place I had grown to call home, weeping all the way down I-5 until I got to Oregon. Today, my heart longs and aches to be back in Northwest, to be in Tacoma, in the city where I grew up. The place where my soul most feels at rest and the place where I truly feel I belong. My chest tightens as I gulp down another twinge of nostalgia.
Once upon what seems like a lifetime ago, I worked at summer camp. At that camp we served middle aged and high school kids from all across California and Nevada for week long sleep-away camp on the rim of Yosemite National Park. It meant days of games on the green and pool olympics and hikes and nights of campfires and stargazing and dance parties. But, every week, without fail, some kids would end up in the infirmary with really nothing wrong with them. They took comfort in getting yet another bandaid for the blister that healed days ago or getting their temperature taken once again because they were sure there was something wrong with them, something that would warrant a call home.
Every night our staff gathered after campfire for prayer, a tradition where I worked, one that brought comfort and camaraderie and the utmost loving work environment. And that night, our nurse joined the group. Most nights she was kept too busy with distributing night meds that she never got to join us. But that night, she climbed up the hill and joined our hand-held circle. And I will never forget what she said…
“God, I want to thank you for all of the kids who are in the infirmary tonight that are homesick. What a blessing that they have such loving homes to be sick for.”
So as I stare out this window tonight, as the sunset turns into darkness and the clouds roll in over the park, I’m reminded, “what a blessing is it that I have such a loving home to be sick for?”
Photo Credit: L. M. Raitt, 2017.