A plane carries me hundreds of miles, flying faster than a bird, to my home. I had to fly to get there, nearly a thousand miles away. When I walk off the plane and into the airport, I hear the voices. It’s the southern accent I grew up listening to, like a sweet sound in my ears. I had forgotten; it is like the sound of home; familiar.

I used to talk that way, but now the accent only emerges when I’m in the south or speaking with another person with a southern accent. It’s a funny thing… like it’s always there, just waiting for a chance to come out and speak its voice.

And I see him, my father frail in the hospital bed, another reminder of how quickly the years go by. My mother, already frail with age and time, sits on a chair in the same room.

And when we come home, the air is full of drifting pink camellias and the sun is bright, the sky is a deep blue. A soft warm breeze brushes past me. I don’t need a jacket here. I find prickly burs that have fallen off the sweetgum tree and collect huge pinecones. The crunchy leaves crush to a fine powder, the smell of minced leaves a lovely nutty smell. A baby pomegranate falls off the tiny tree in the front yard. Dry brown leaves blanket the yard.

And I’m whisked from past to present, present to past, back and forth…  jolted by how roles reverse and how what was white becomes black and what was day becomes night, to see the strong become weak, the young become old and fragile.

I wish I weren’t hundreds of cement miles away.

I try to swim out of this winter, the one that is coming and the one that won’t go away… but snows won’t give way. I see it coming on the horizon and I know some of it is unstoppable. I see sprigs of summer hope in my imagination, ripe for the picking, and I want to get my hands around them and pluck them and keep them, plant them, but so far they are elusive…yet I keep them in front of me, and reach for them.

It feels like Joseph in prison and Moses in the wilderness and I keep looking on the horizon for some kind of answer written as clearly as if Jesus scribbled it in the sand.

An old familiar ache hits me again and again, a homesickness that won’t go away… a loneliness, too, of the walk that each one of us walks, with no one else truly knowing….

Except God. He knows the truth of each and every heart, and I’m thankful for that, comforted by that. I tell God. He gets it. He gets what no one else does. He sees the plight of each heart, each life, each soul. He walked this same earth, got dust on his feet and dirt in his fingernails… he cried salty tears. He knows the trials of this world. And I tell Him this, all of this, and more… and there is no condemnation.

Walking by faith… sometimes it feels like this to me– like a walk in the valley, in the wilderness, in desert places… with only the knowledge that He is there with me, even though I don’t know the road ahead. He is faithful to never leave me.

He says to keep walking, keep fighting the good fight. I keep faith and hope as companions, but also try to remember these words he spoke: “the greatest of these is love”.

And I ask Him the question, how to do this, how to wrap my arms across hundreds of cement miles, and why to a million other things, and dozens of other heartaches I put in His palm… and I wait for Maker of the universe to talk to me. Because He does.


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