written by Betty L. Creamer
I am HOMESICK! Perhaps many others share this homesickness but have yet to name the feeling. Most people know homesickness at some level—the intense homesickness at age eight experiencing sleep-away camp for the first time; some waves of moderate homesickness as a college freshman longing for family dinner; or a more simple “having a great time on a two-week trip to Europe but now looking forward to getting back to my own home.” Being homesick while at home produces the same feeling of longing while actually in one’s home during this prolonged Stay-at-Home time. My homesickness emerged last Saturday afternoon as I faced another Sunday without gathering around God’s table with our beloved community of faith.
As day slipped into evening on Saturday before the Third Sunday of Easter, the sun blazed in orange glory and descended effortlessly behind the purple mountain range here in the California desert. Like the downward path of the sun, so my spirits also sagged as I faced awakening on yet another Sunday morning with no gathering of our community around God’s Table, no in-person sharing of Word, Prayers, and Sacrament. No gathering for our usual luncheon afterwards.
Now in the sixth week of Stay-at-Home in California, something felt different about the inability to gather on this Third Sunday of Easter. The weight seemed not just heavy with longing for the gathered community and shared Sacrament but somehow different.
On the Third Sunday of Easter, I would usually start the grill early and grill fish for our luncheon meal—grilled fish to add to the small loaves of bread (one of which used at our Eucharistic table) fresh from a local bakery as we continued our thoughts of knowing the Risen Jesus in the breaking of bread as we moved from Eucharistic table to luncheon tables.
As a person in the at-risk age group of age 65+, I have not left the resort community where I live in over six weeks; but I thought on Saturday that I could have grilled fish on Sunday lunch. I could easily order fish for delivery with other grocery items; but, no, I could not do that. Grilled fish any other day but not on this Sunday, for as we all long for Holy Communion and do not celebrate alone, so we all wait until we gather for both Holy Communion and this Third Sunday in Easter ritual of shared grilled fish sandwiches.
Rising on Sunday morning, that strangely different heaviness continued in my heart. When I went out for my morning walk with the views and smells of the desert and the surrounding snow-capped mountain peaks, I realized (thank you, Holy Spirit) that I knew that heaviness and could apply the proper name— HOMESICKNESS!!
I spent many years working in international settings where I loved the people and culture of my host countries, but the time always came when I longed for home. As the days moved toward Christmas or summer holidays (when I served as international school head), I began to feel that longing for my U.S. home, for the people, the sights, sounds, and the food!
Now I experience that same type of longing–homesickness. I am homesick for the family gathered at the Eucharistic Table. I am homesick for the light of Christ shining in the beloved people who gather at that table and share God’s love and light with friends and visitors. I am homesick for the feeling of corporate belonging; for the joy of celebration and sharing the Body and Blood of Christ; and for the strength we gain in community.
I am homesick for the opportunity to sit at the luncheon table and share the food offered each week as gifts from those who gather; and I am homesick for the act of going out from our gatherings to join up with God’s mission in the neighborhood—often with plates of left-over food for those we know who need that visible presence of God’s love.
Perhaps others also have that unique feeling which differs somehow from anxiety, sadness, fear, and more. Today I name this feeling, Homesickness, and look with longing for the time we will once again gather in our communities of faith where we pray together and celebrate in the Eucharistic Meal and then break and share the bread of friendship and love at our luncheon.
May God who loves us into being and makes us one family through Holy Baptism, Christ who reveals himself in the breaking of bread, and the Holy Spirit who guides and sustains us in this desert time bring us safely home. Amen.
Betty Creamer serves as a resident chaplain at a senior resort community near Palm Springs, California.