“Is this even home for you anymore?”
Is home where my nephew, Pete, barrels into me with ninja hugs when he sees me?
Is it where we have family BBQs?
Or where the Monday Funday always lives up to its name?
Is it where I can celebrate weddings and births and all the other milestones?
Is it with my sister and her family in Scotland?
Or where I can have Sneaky Coffee with Dianna and morning runs with Katie?
Or is it where my toothbrush has a cup it belongs in and I fall asleep to glow in the dark stars on my ceiling and the hums of a ship?
With my feet firmly planted here in Washington I still long for the red dirt of Africa, the warm Indian Ocean breeze, the sweet giggles of Sam I Am in Scotland or a hug from Lisa in Atlanta or a road trip with Liz Lemon.
One of the many things I’ve learned while working with Mercy Ships is that “Home” is so much more than four walls or bulkheads, its not a location, home really is where you heart is. But of course its not as simple as that. It feels as though my heart has been shattered across this world in the best possible way. No matter where I am, or how content I am to be there, a part of my heart will always be longing for somewhere else.
But I guess that’s another beautiful thing this life with Mercy Ships does, it tangibly reminds you of your constant longing for something bigger, better and far more beautiful… that quiet ache for Heaven. And not some fluffy or stuffy version of Heaven but of the real and beautiful Heaven where there is no more pain or disappointment, no more cancer, no more senseless deaths, no more heartbreaks, just pure and true beauty and love.
And as I get ready to leave again I’m realizing that nowhere will ever feel 100% home, that a part of me will always feel this way, will always ache as more pieces of my heart get left behind. And while it may make the homecomings that much sweeter, that knowledge doesn’t make goodbyes any easier, if anything it makes it harder, knowing what I am saying goodbye to… the weddings, the conversations, the Fundays, the trips, the hugs, the laughs over meals, and so so much more.
However, as crazy as it sounds, I am so thankful the goodbyes don’t get easier. I’m thankful I can say “See you” instead. I am thankful I’ve learned what home really is… its the relationships and the people, it’s the memories that are made, its the place where you are authentic and real with others and allow yourself to be vulnerable, where you experience life with others… the ups and downs, the chaos of kids, the beauty of love, the mundane of work, the quietness of movies and the stillness of night.
Its where are you are, choosing to be present and engage, to live with purpose wherever you are in spite of your longings for other people and places.
So as I pack up and get ready to leave again I’m trying to balance the tension… sad to leave this home but excited to go back to the next home. I know as soon as I sit down in the airport after clearing security I will be that girl with quiet tears. And I know that as soon as I see John and Sam at the airport in Glasgow next Friday I will feel at home again. Then lather, rinse, repeat a few weeks later as I leave that home for the one with magnetic walls covered with pictures from all over the world of dearly loved and valued friends, a place for my toothbrush and another piece of my heart.