We spent a really lovely Thanksgiving day with most of my family and some special friends at my sister Beth’s and her husband Gene’s home in the Philadelphia suburbs. I loved having Eric’s brother with us too! The food was great; being with people I love so dearly was a treat that I will cherish for a long time. We loved watching how this group of people embraced our children– even better, threw them up in the air a million times; took them on walks; gave tickle tortures incessantly. It was wonderful.
But I was curious about this strange feeling in my heart that I felt at times throughout the day — a feeling of being homesick. It is curious because for the last six years we have been in Japan during the Thanksgiving season, and always there I would share this same mix of emotions: joy at being together with our special “family” in Japan; and a homesickness for my family back in New Jersey. Our good friend Keiko in Japan wrote to me this fall and said, “I am so glad Sue that you can be with your family for Thanksgiving. I know you were always homesick each year in Japan.” Now we are “home” – but I feel that familiar twinge again…
I realize that part of this could be feeling almost like a “guest” back here. This is my beloved family, but we have not been a part of their shared experiences on Thanksgiving for many years. They have created many special ways of celebrating that have become “theirs”. So we are trying to learn their ways and adapt. What should be very familiar is also new and different from what our own recent experiences have been. Also, having a back injury this week kept me away from the football field and out of the kitchen… I was sad not to be able to help more with the preparations and the bonding task of dishes (honest – I really was sad!).
I am often asked here what I miss about Japan. Japan is our home. It is where God has placed us, and He has generously provided there a wonderful body of friends, which changes often, but they are our Japan family. We have created many memories; many ways of doing things which are often creative! — all of these things make Japan our home.
But the reality is that neither of these places are home. That there will likely always be this sense of discontent and longing until heaven… for that is where life started; that is the ultimate Home. I don’t get it all, but I know that somewhere deep in my there is a longing for that Home; for that Celebration; for that Family. All of these earthly celebrations are wonderful foretastes of what is waiting for us.
Here is a YouTube video that I found featuring Michelle Tume’s song “Untame Lion” that was written about Aslan and the Chronicles of Narnia. It touched this deep, homesick place in my heart.