It was 50 degrees and raining, the morning of the Blessing of the Bikes near our old hometown in Michigan. The cheery fire in our friend’s fireplace made us want to curl up in a corner with a mug of something warm. But we had driven 900 miles to get here, so we set our teeth, determined to get our bike blessed despite the weather. Besides, we had been cold and wet before. We pulled on long johns, heavy woolen socks, gloves, and helmets and rain gear. I felt like the kid in the Christmas Story; whining, “I can’t move my arms!” when we finally set out for the hour ride to the airport, where the Catholic priest would make the sign of the cross over the thousands of bikes lined up like chrome sardines in a can. Half way there, the sun smiled on us, the roads dried up, and the day turned perfect. We rode by our old homestead, and I felt that vague, dull ache of homesickness, thudding in my chest. The trees were thinly leafing out, the grass, green and cool. I remembered walking our old dog through the woods, steering clear of the big, black bear that made the hair stand up on his neck, and had him skittering sideways in the brush. I remembered spying out the deer yard, and wading in the stream that ran, cold and clear, through the back of our land. I missed knowing what to plant, and when, and the comfort of being able to turn over a big rock and identify what ever it was you might find underneath it. But, on the ride back, I found myself wondering why there was no moss hanging from the trees, and where all the flowers were, and marveling that the farmers had not yet turned over the ground, although it was mid-May. I found myself looking in every puddle for an alligator, and laughing at myself over it. The only thing in these puddles might be some tadpoles, newly hatched. How odd it was, that when I was in Georgia, I missed the familiar feel of Michigan. But, when I was in Michigan, I had Georgia on my mind. It felt like my heart was in both places at once, and I was homesick, either place. In Bonaventure Cemetery, on a footstone where the Bird Girl statue once stood, before they had to move her to a place free from inquisitive fingers, a verse from 1 Corinthians is carved. It reads, “ We do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” St. Paul knew what I was feeling. He loved his life, and his ministry, and his people, but there were times when that dull ache of homesickness thudded in his chest, too, and he longed to leave his earthly home, to be in his heavenly one. And, we, too, know that ache – that restless yearning to be someplace else – no matter how contented we are in this place. Being a believer means that you live with a foot in both worlds. For, while we love the home God has given us in this life, our hearts will always yearn for our heavenly home, until the day we land with both feet on the other side. Back in Georgia, the hundred degree temperature settles on my brow like dust on a melon. I wonder if it is through snowing in Michigan, and if the peepers have begun their evening chorus. But, I dream of what heaven will be like when I get there. And, I learn to live with a homesick heart.
Pastor Barb <><
Our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.