It’s been too long since I have sat in silence in a coffee shop in fall, allowing the light to kiss my cheek as the words flow out of me like rain from the autumn sky. I have been chasing busy, chasing purpose, chasing a life like the one I left behind. I long to feel plugged in, rooted, established with twenty years behind me. But that is not here. It is not meant to be.
I search for things to fill the moments between the seconds. Perhaps I could take another class, perhaps I could pick up a new hobby (never mind the bones of those sitting in my closet corners waiting to be favored once more). Maybe I should go thrifting, savor the thrill of a new find. Hit up those I know, call friends from home, grasp for anything to fill the spaces between the clock’s ticks. For in those moments is the furious, raging reminder that I am not home.
The ticks remind me neither was I home in Miami. These emotions ran savage there as well, often rearing their heads in similar ways, or in the form of more time spent in the church office, searching for something of meaning. Slowly I am learning it will never be found here. The taste of this life will always leave my mouth dry, my stomach begging for more. Sustenance lay on the other side of the gorge.
At the end of the day, we’re all searching for Heaven on this misshapen planet we call home. This is not the life we were designed for, and the awareness of that must color the way we view everything. When faced with death, processing the grief somehow becomes more clear when seen with the understanding that it was never supposed to be this way. Instead of trying to rationalize it or romanticize the pain with such idioms as “they are looking down on us now,” or “God needed another angel,” the simple acceptance of what our bones know, that this is not right, somehow makes the bearing easier. Because at least in the midst of the trauma, we are being honest with ourselves.
This applies to everything, though. Work was never meant to be toil, but joy. Relationships were not meant to end; or worse, grow comatose. We were designed for lives of adventure without end, lives of deep meaning and fellowship and intimacy. Desperately we search for it here, but that’s as fruitless as searching for my Miami moss and vines in the California desert which now houses me. On this planet, life must always come from death.
Stephen Hawking said it best (via USA Today): “We are running out of space, and the only places to go to are other worlds… It is time to explore other solar systems. Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves. I am convinced that humans need to leave Earth.” One day Earth, and all that is in it, will fade away. However, contrary to Hawking’s speculations, instead of finding ourselves on Mars we will be standing in the presence of God Almighty, then faced with the harrowing question of how we spent our time here. Instead of searching for imitations of the destiny soon coming, I want to be found actively preparing myself for the day He arrives. I want to be found with the oil in my lamp burning, undistracted from the true purpose for which He has placed me here, “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the groom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they didn’t take oil with them; but the wise ones took oil in their flasks with their lamps. When the groom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. In the middle of the night there was a shout: ‘Here’s the groom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all the virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise ones, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’ The wise ones answered, ‘No, there won’t be enough for us and for you. Go instead to those who sell oil, and buy some for yourselves.’ When they had gone to buy some, the groom arrived, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet, and the door was shut. Later the rest of the virgins also came and said, ‘Master, master, open up for us! ‘ He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you! ‘ Therefore be alert, because you don’t know either the day or the hour.”