Tuesday, 26 July 2011

the homesick blues ...

July 26, 2011
I got incredibly homesick this week.
I wasn’t sure that I could write about it, but decided that in fact I could, and should.
It hit me Sunday, after an incredibly busy and somewhat stressful week here. Not stressful for me, but for the younger volunteers who really carried the heaviest load supporting the two large groups on site all week. I just kind of ran behind everything, looking for places to plug myself in or help where needed, even though I was supposed to have two days off. With a combined number of almost 50 children ranging from newborn to teens, it required tremendous energy and stamina for those working directly with the groups for a full seven days.
As soon as they left Sunday, there was a huge cleanup of the site, evaluation meetings, and then finally around 5:30 pm, a time to socialize and relax until Monday, when the next groups arrived. There was a communal dinner planned, and by 6:30 the volunteer house was a buzz with cooking, laughing, and yes, a few glasses of wine and beer. Just like home.
I thought of the many Sundays over the years when our home was in a similar state, often on Sunday evenings. And I thought about how Pat and the boys would be enjoying dinner together that evening. And I thought about how it’s been almost a month since I’ve been here ... and what made me think I could go three months without being around my family and friends? And then the tears started ...
I don’t cry much, and when I do, it’s usually over pretty quickly. These tears wouldn’t stop. Maybe because in many ways it feels like my life has been nonstop crazy since I decided to come here last January ... who knows. I fled to my room with my glass of wine. Let them come in private, I thought – don’t want to spoil the party. Thought it was over. Tried to join the party again. More tears. I fled to the patio.
Then Jo, one of the other mid term volunteers came out for her smoke. “You okay?” she asked. “Not really,” I said. “Homesick I think. I think I underestimated how hard it is to start over, to form a new identity with a new group at my age.” She came over and gave me a hug. Jo, from Wisconsin, was here last year for five months as a mid-termer, so knows the ropes. She came to Corrymeela the first time after suffering several tragedies, including the sudden death of her husband, over a short period of time. She’s now an important part of the fabric of the community, and known far and wide for the incredible desserts that she makes, her sense of humour, and for taking the volunteers to Ballycastle for lunch on their days off.
Then Irene, a summer volunteer, a theology student from Boston came out for her smoke. “Is this a private conversation?” she asked. “No” I said, “I’m just missing my family.” Then she said “But your family is coming over!” Which of course she knows because I’ve been talking non-stop to anyone who will listen about Alana’s visit in two weeks. “And besides,” she said, “I’ll be your family.”
I’m writing this on Tuesday, and I’m surprised that as I write this, I’m still feeling a bit weepy. Maybe the homesickness isn’t going to go away ... and maybe that’s okay. It’s a beautiful day here in Ballycastle – as I walk out the front door of Coventry, there is a hillside full of sheep to my right. And the view of Rathlin Island and the cliffs of Ballycastle still takes my breath away every time I see it.
And once again, the place is full of families, youth and children. Our worship services this week have been lively and spirit filled. Despite my longings for family and friends, I still feel the hand of God has led me here to learn from and to contribute to this community. And every week I make new friends.
And ... Alana comes in less than two weeks!
Thanks to everyone who has commented on my blog – I’m not answering them individually, but have really appreciated hearing from you. It’s a funny thing just sending thoughts into cyberspace ... so it’s great to hear that the words are landing concretely somewhere. This week, I continue to coordinate worship, play my guitar when needed (led a Taize prayer last week with many voices!) and this weekend will facilitate the making of a giant portable labyrinth. And, I continue to work on the all ages worship resource.

But I’m still homesick, and maybe that’s ok. I carry you all in my heart.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Marth. This took alot of courage to write and struck a familiar chord. I have no sagely advice. Feeling homesick can be positive though. It can help you zero in on the things that are important for you and help strengthen bonds. But you know this already. Maybe everyone needs to feel the pain of homesickness to fully understand where and what home is...