Have you ever been looking into the night sky, or maybe someone's eyes, or down an inviting country lane, and suddenly get lost in its depth, its unpredictable serenity, sent out into the incredible and unimaginable future only to be captured back into the present before you comprehend the scene? I have.
At times I have this deep ache, a very real and lovely longing for intangible futures. I see things for a moment, like specters, dancing and calling me, showing me memories of things I have never seen, and though I also see that they are not in my near future, they are there somewhere, playing hide and seek in time. I think the ache is akin to that feeling you got at the center of your heart the first time you left home for a week, and you missed your room and your parents, and even your pesky, snotty, bratty, wonderful siblings. You were probably seven or eight, and it may have been some sort of camp with your church or school, and it was fun, but it wasn't home.
This next analogy only works if you have seen cameras other than the digital kind. When a film camera takes a picture, there is a shutter that opens for just a fraction of a second, and in that moment the image is captured on the film. You can even duplicate this type of effect yourself with your own eyes. Just close your eyes for a while and then open them and quickly close them again (this will work best if you are looking out a window where there is a lot of light and contrast) and the image will seem to linger for a couple heartbeats. The longing I speak of is kind of like this, I am just minding my business living life and then, in a brilliant and fleeting flash, I see the expanse of the universe, its image and emotion burned into the retina of my soul, and the ache, while intense for a moment, slowly fades and I am left to myself wondering.
I wonder at the feelings I get when this happens, the feeling that what I saw was home. It feels like that's where I belong, not here, not in the small struggles I face today, but there, where my heart is full and my experiences rich, and my family, not my current family only, my own family, is close and our bonds strong. How is it that I can be homesick for a home I don't yet have? Things stir in me that I don't understand, my heart feels broken for not being there in that glimpse of forever, feels weak and unsuited for the task, hungry for company. It's hard to explain. I need deeper words, or to be able to write with emotion as my text instead of these clumsy symbols. So inadequate are these tools sometimes. I feel I understand what God meant when He said He speaks according to our understanding, using the language of man's comprehension.
I feel that these glimpses into the eternities, into the mind and will of God, are for us encouragements to help us on our way, to show us that there is more, to keep us from sitting still, to make sure we still dream. The breath leaves us for a moment and our hearts expand in the attempt to fully embrace the scene, and the ache comes when we find that our hearts are not yet big enough, but are hungry to become so. And the vision fades, leaving us hopeful, longing.
I want it. I don't know exactly how to get there, but I know a few of the steps. I don't know what to do all the time and I make things harder sometimes. But for now, I will enjoy the journey, the company of friends, the lessons I learn, and the joys I gain.