Earlier this week a friend was talking to me about a major move she is due to make, and in the course of the conversation she made a passing comment about choosing to concentrate not on the things that she would miss, but on the things that she would not. To my regret, I did not listen very well, but jumped in to tell her how important it was to own and reflect on both, not stopping to think about the reasons she might have needed, short or long term, to deal with the transition in that way. As happens to us all in listening, I was distracted by my own experiences – in this case my current transition and the desire to carefully and healthily balance the sadness and the excitement. Lesson learned. I will try to do better next time.
But it started me thinking. As I said in a previous blog, life is a series of goodbyes, which potentially though not inevitably lead to us missing something, experiencing that heart-tug that there is a vacuum, something that has been lost or that we cannot reach. We can only surmise, but surely babies miss the warmth and security of the womb, and twin babies often reach out for one another to reconnect the intimacy of that shared space. During full lockdown we missed so much, from the simple joys of a shared coffee to that still current ache of not being able to hug those we love but do not live with. Now we find ourselves about to enter a second one, less stringent in a few ways yet still with aspects of life, which had just started to resume, again being removed. Some of the difficulty of this time is the uncertainty as to how long the situation will continue.
That in turn led me to think about all that Jesus must have missed during his time on earth. Born as much from the womb of heaven as from Mary’s, how he must have longed for the complete intimacy with the Father and Spirit which the incarnation at least partially interrupted. That yearning must have been particularly poignant when his disciples showed their customary misunderstanding of not just what he was saying, but who he really was. This inner pining which must have been there his whole life, and was expressed so painfully on the cross, was one of many sacrifices made for us.
And us? Perhaps at times we glimpse that something more is missing underneath all the many and varied distractions we create for ourselves and allow our sense of craving to steer us towards searching for it. That in turn may lead us to discover that for us too life is a journey towards our true home – not a return like Jesus but a discovering that this is the place where we truly belong and for which we were ultimately made.