I constantly long for home.
I don’t mean the house in which I currently live and call home, I mean home: a place of rest.
I think I’ve always longed for home, but it’s only just recently that I’ve begun to realize it.
When I was younger I remember being at home, in the house, with my family. I had (still do) three older brothers, two parents (I think that’s how it works) and we called it “home.” But there always seemed to be something missing. I never really knew what it was, but something missing always stood just outside the range of my perception. Don’t get me wrong, my parents provided a safe place for us. It was warm and inviting and I have many good memories of holidays, summer times, and nights playing games while drinking hot chocolate in front of a fire place. I remember some family vacations and winter escapades in the snow. All in all, it was a very good home, but there still seemed to be always something missing.
But now, as I look back on things, I don’t desire to return there, but I do desire to find that thing that was missing: that thing always sitting on the periphery of every moment and every memory.
And as I look around at my present circumstances I realize there is still something missing. Again, like in my youth, I have everything anyone could ever really desire: possessions, friends, meaningful interactions, good health, and more, but sitting just outside of my perception is an unnamable longing that I find constantly calls me.
A few months ago I think I caught a glimpse of this longing while I was at church. I was at a good Friday service and was standing in the middle of the church during a song when I caught a glimpse of something. For a moment, and just a moment, I saw through the crowd. I don’t mean I saw something on the other side of the crowd, but I saw something that can only be described as a promise of a final homecoming. I didn’t have a vision or anything like that, but through the crowd came a sense that each of us is traveling our own separate paths, with each path ideally leading to a final destination where we will all meet, laugh, and talk about life. It was a place where we drop all of our pretenses and expectations and just enjoy the moment and each other. There was something about that moment that brought tears to my eyes and, for the first time in a very long time, I sensed that I was seeing home. (If you want to read about it, I’ve posted the poem I wrote as a result of that experience here.)
I suppose at this point you may be wondering why I’ve been writing about my longing for home when I should be writing about Psalm 84. If you remember in Psalm 74 where Asaph wrote about the destruction of the temple then it will be no surprise that the sons of Korah wrote about their longing for the courts of the Lord in Psalm 84. It might also make some sense that Asaph, a musician in the temple, wrote about the destruction of the temple, and the sons of Korah, gatekeepers of the temple, wrote of their longing for a new temple. The sons of Korah are the same authors if you recall, who wrote in Psalm 42 and 43 how they longed for God as a deer pants for water. In that light, it could easily be said that the sons of Korah knew they were missing something and they knew the very things they were missing: God’s presence (Psalm 42), and God’s temple (Psalm 84).
I think that is the home for which I’ve also been longing. It always sits at the edge of my perception, covering every moment and every experience with a longing for something more. It exists when I wake in the morning and when I fall asleep at night. It even exists, I think, in other people as they raise their children and when they go to family reunions. People are always seeking for home, though they often make the mistake of thinking home is something they once had or something they will soon have.
I also think this home for which we long is the same home we once had in the garden. The garden was a place where we walked with God, we talked with God, and we were comfortable and fulfilled in all that we said and did. But it was also the place where we abandoned that home for something else and ever since, the whole of humanity has been longing to return to that home. Everything we do and everything we dream about doing is a constant longing for the home that preceded our birth and awaits us on the other side of our death. And furthermore, it is, I believe, these frequent glimpses of home that give meaning to our otherwise mundane lives.
How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes faints for the courts of the Lord:
my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.