Steve West - Homesick for Heaven
WORLD Radio - Steve West - Homesick for Heaven
A father’s prayer for a daughter away at summer camp
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, July 13th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Some people are wanderers; some people, wonderers. Here’s WORLD commentator Steve West.
STEVE WEST, COMMENTATOR: A few years ago, we delivered our daughter to her last summer camp. She'd been looking forward to it for days, counting down the hours even, bubbling over with excitement. As we turned into the wooded entrance, she rolled down her window and said “Smell that air! Isn't it great?”
Well, no. No, it isn’t.
It’s hot, humid, and dusty. And the idea of spending a week in a non-air conditioned, musty, spider-filled cabin sounded horrible to me. But I only smiled. That was completely irrelevant to her.
When we returned home, the house felt empty. We passed by her vacant bedroom and sighed. There was a hole in our home, a hole in our hearts, a voice we didn’t hear, hugs we couldn’t savor—for two weeks that is. We talked about her, remembered things she said, prayed for her. We wondered what she was doing nearly every minute. We pored over pictures the camp counselors posted, looking for her face.
Contrast that with her attitude about our separation. When I asked her if she'd miss us, she thought about it for maybe a second. Then, somewhat apologetically, she said she wouldn't. At least not much. She said she'd be too busy. She said she'd write, once, maybe. The previous summer, we wrote to her every day. In return, we received one postcard scrawled with two sentences: “I’m having fun. I had chicken for dinner. Bye.” That's how it goes.
This camp experience is foreign to me. The two summers I went to camp you would have thought I was being incarcerated. I cried before I went and pleaded with my parents to let me stay home. When they dropped me off, I looked longingly at their car as it drove away. I was the last to go to sleep in my cabin, every night, as I lay there wondering what was happening at home and plotting my escape. Oh, I got on with it, but in the corner of my mind, ever-present, was my dream of home.
It bothered me that my daughter didn’t miss us, at least not much, until I finally made my peace with it. For whatever reason, I think God left the “missing” part out of her. He has His reasons. Maybe she needs to do things that will require her to travel, to be away for long periods of time. Maybe this frees her to move in the world unencumbered, untethered by homesickness and roots like some of us. It has its downside, sure. She may never know the deep love of place and community that us home-bound people feel, that connectedness. But perhaps she will be able to do things we cannot.
She’s grown now. After four years of college in Kansas, with post-college stops in Texas and California, she lives three minutes from us, taking care of her animals and those of others. She’s home after all.
Yet one thing I still pray: that she'll develop a homesickness for Heaven. And maybe, just maybe, if she lights out again, she'll miss her Dad and Mom and brother a little bit while she's out there with the people, living, enjoying it all, smelling the air of freedom.
I’m Steve West.
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