Coming Home

I’m on the North Fork of Long Island, surrounded by the scents of sea and tidal marshes, familiar vegetation (scrub oak, cabbage fields, sedge, marsh grass, bayberry), wood shingled dwellings, and overall, the unique Long Island light of my childhood.  One day last week I  gathered “wampum” (smooth thick shards of shell) on the beach as I did when I was enamoured of the Long Island Indians as a kid. And, as I did as a child, I look out over the water, longing for some unseen, unknowable sense of home.

I’d ask myself even then, how could I not be “home”?  We had family movies of my coming home from the hospital in my mother’s arms. I’m squished and red in the face with orange  downey hair, crying, crying.  In the movies I’m being doted over and certainly I was loved as a child. 

Heading to Long Island on the Bridgeport of Port Jefferson Ferry

Heading to Long Island on the Bridgeport/Port Jefferson Ferry

Still, I longed for “home,” and when I was old enough I’d go out into the woods to weep, “I want to go home!”  That feeling transferred into a symbol of my looking out over the water to the horizon, from a painting I once saw of a little Dutch girl looking out over the sea.  I even set a musical score to the image, a plaintive piece my older brother played in his junior high school band.  I hummed the music and longed and longed for home. I’ve lost this tune but I remember the sentiment. Occasionally I encounter it in adult forms, and in prayer.

So here I am, on a two week writing retreat at The Ink Hotel in Southold, choosing to go to this home-like spit of land surrounded by sea to write the Eucharist part of my Book of Hours.  Eucharist, the ultimate longing for home.

But here’s the irony. By the end of a Eucharist, you are turned inside out, and instead of going home, you’re sent out, integrating home with your own fragile set of unique bones and blood and brain tissue and, heaven help us, personality. You are commissioned to engage fully in daily life, going out to seek danger, wield justice, bring the Love you have just taken into yourself to the broken hearted, the sick , the hungry, the displaced, the mentally ill, the violent, the unlovely and unloved, to BE home to the homesick in a broken world because you have just consumed home.

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