Saturday, November 20, 2004

home for the holidays

Life has been so full, not merely busy. Each day has been loaded with significant conversations & decisions about how long we will live here in the Philippines and where we will go next. But here we are hurtling towards Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas right on its heels. The calendar is giving no pause for our deliberation! All around are blinking lights, Christmas carols (here they started in August), and shelves stocked with holiday goodies. Something stirs in me when I imagine the smell of pumpkin pie baking, stacks of leftovers jammed into the fridge, unhurried time with family.

Then I remember ... I live on an island across the Pacific Ocean, and there will be no family. No football game or parade to watch on Thanksgiving day. No mom to help cook the turkey. No dad to carve it. No neighbors celebrating. Just a regular day. We will be far, so far, from loved ones on Christmas. No pile of presents. No chill in the air. No cousins playing by the tree. When the wave of nostalgia first hit me I was tempted to wallow in self-pity. But that same moment there was a twin feeling, a gentle whisper ... "soul thirst."

My longing to be home for the holidays, my craving for yummy smells and cheery music and a cozy living room, is merely an echo of my thirsty soul. Gingerbread cookies, candlelight services, even time with family can't touch my deepest longings. Those can be met right here, in 90 degree heat with construction workers right outside my kitchen window. In my isolation I have 2 choices: to wallow or to burrow. The first, self-pity, is all too tempting. The challenge is to instead burrow deeper with the Lord, to surround myself with His tender mercy, and to soak in the reminder that no matter where He takes me I am found in Him. He is my home for the holidays!