I wrote the following 20 years ago, but it is still true.
We have just returned from our spring break vacation in Florida, but it was not a fun holiday for me.
The first weekend we visited Jake’s dad in the Grand Court Nursing Home.
The second part we spent in my parents’ condo in Sarasota.
Disparate places – the nursing home and the resort – but curiously, both places left me desiring something more.
Nursing homes: stale-antiseptic air, wheelchairs, boredom, pain, loneliness, and loss. I walk in and feel discouraged. I do not like the immediate self-centeredness and the aversion I feel but it is true: I don’t like being there. I don’t like seeing the indignities, the suffering. I long for escape for Jake’s dad and for myself.
Resorts: salty-fresh air, gorgeous beaches and pools, shops, restaurants, and smiling, healthy people. I walk around, surrounded by the consumerism and feel my own vanity, envy, lust, desiring for what is not mine. Comparing and judging rather than loving and appreciating. Seeing my own worldliness is disheartening and makes me yearn for change.
And it was our family vacation. Weren’t we supposed to enjoy being together and loving each other? But honestly, it was disappointing. Selfishness goes wherever I go, and I hate how we sometimes hurt each other. I long for a better love.
So that vacation left me sad with longing.
Or perhaps it just uncovered the longings that run deep . . .
During the week as I walked along the beach in the early mornings, I memorized the words to the hymn “O, The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus.”
The poetic words compare Jesus’ love to the ocean: vast, measureless, boundless, free.
If it weren’t for His faithful-as-the-waves love, I don’t think I could admit my frequent failure and deep longings.
So I wondered as I walked, Are my unfulfilled longings actually a gift, to keep me seeking Him?
That my heart aches seems inevitable, as long as I am living honestly here on earth, as long as there are nursing homes and beautiful resorts and sad family vacations.
Life on earth cannot give me all that I yearn for, but there is Another Life, a Life After — True Life with God.
And until then, I shall ask my deep longings to lead me to the deep, deep Love of Jesus.
“The Christian says, ‘Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists.’ A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world . . . If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.” — C.S. Lewis
“Longing is at the heart of Christian spirituality. Augustine’s Latin phrase desiderium sinus cordis — ‘yearning makes the heart grow deep’ — was a theme of his pilgrimage on earth.” — from “Devotions for Advent”