Years ago, when I was in school, I loved to doodle houses on the edges of my notes. Houses isn’t quite accurate. It was one house, over and over:
A long front porch.
A chimney on the side.
Huge windows flanking the front door.
Three dormer windows. Real dormer windows, not the fake ones intended to make a one story house look like a two story.
The landscaping was generic: curly-qued bushes, stick straight trees. I was always more interested in my home than the greenery surrounding it. This was my future home, I would think. My dream house, filled with light and lovely furnishings and books. Lots of books.
Thus far, I have yet to find this dream home.
My childhood home was one story.
My house from my teen years was a one story, but with a front porch.
(Don’t even ask about the dorm from my first year of college.)
Our starter home was another rancher, without a front porch but with a chimney.
Our next house was two stories, a small porch, without a chimney.
Our current residence is another two story house, without a chimney, with a front porch, but still no dormers. I’m close, but not there yet.
I think I may never live in that little doodle-house, at least not in this life.
I’m not home yet.
Life has a way of beating us down. Years of pain take their toll. Even the strongest, feistiest people can reach a point of weariness if there seems to be no end in sight and no rest from the constant struggle to survive.
There are as many types of pain as there are people in this world, and each is unique because we’re unique, and each is commonplace because we’re all humans and share certain commonplace, but powerful, longings. We long for a home.
It’s there, doodled on the edges of our hearts. We can’t physically see it, but our hearts do.
My mental illness wears me out. A year or two ago, it had just punched the daylight out of me. It was fall, a season that upsets my mental equilibrium. My daughter’s school situation was a mess. Our church had split; every Sunday morning brought news of turmoil and the loss of more familiar faces. I had just ditched Facebook and was struck with the reality that I had no friends. I’d been using social media as a substitute for the loneliness I felt at church. In its absence, I was alone.
I didn’t blog.
I didn’t read.
I gave up work on my third novel in the middle of the first draft. I’ll never be a writer, I thought. No one cares what I write.
I sat on the sofa and listened to silence.
When my kids were home, I pulled myself together. My five-year-old wanted me to read the Chronicles of Narnia aloud. I obliged. What else could I do?
One day, we were reading Prince Caspian. Aslan, the great lion, has returned to Narnia after many years. People have almost forgotten him: trees are silent, the talking animals are in hiding, the humans have forbidden all talk of the old ways of Narnia. Many don’t believe that Aslan exists.
Aslan returns. He awakens the sleeping, frightens the bullies, and restores the world to its proper state. At one cottage, he comes across an old woman, Caspian’s former nurse. She is dying, but she looks up to see the massive lion staring into her face.
“ . . . she did not scream or faint. She said, “Oh, Aslan! I knew it was true. I’ve been waiting for this all my life. Have you come to take me away?”
“Yes, Dearest,” said Aslan. “But not the long journey yet.”
I choked up.
In her words, I felt that longing for home. Against all odds, it was true. There is a God. There is a life beyond this waiting. There is a home, where depression and mania, loneliness and pain, where all of that ceases. And one day, the weariness of this life will drop away. I’ll walk up the front porch steps, wipe off this life on the door mat, and walk through the open door and be home.
But not yet.
For now, I’m here.
For now, there is this life to be lived.
For now, there are these pains, these joys, these temporary buildings, these flesh-houses that are amazing and limited.
We’re not home yet.
Photo credit: click, from morgueFile.com