“As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you,
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and behold the face of God?”
This week we’re reading in Everyday Sacrament:
- “Infertility’s Long Initiation”
- “Showered with Blessing”
- “When the Heart Breaks Open”
Longing. It’s not a word we use much these days, is it?
Maybe because we have to yearn for so little. Instant gratification is at our fingertips. Devices in our pockets and purses allow us to escape boredom whenever we want. Everything is a click away (or two days with Amazon Prime).
Even the absence of loved ones is eased by a quick text, a FaceTime chat, a thousand photos shared over the miles. Longing, yearning, pining – these are verbs of a by-gone era. Sentiments scribbled on postcards or poured into long letters, reaching out across time and space with deep desire, the love that knows it will not be easily achieved.
What do we long for anymore?
As I read over this week’s chapters in Everyday Sacrament, my own longing returned to me. The yearning of years of infertility, when all we wanted was a child whose conception we could not control or command. The heart’s gaping ache after miscarriage, when all I could see was cruel emptiness of a dream disappeared.
And the longing of grief that will never be satisfied this side of beyond. Now the longing for my daughters, the yearning to hold all our children in our arms and have our family feel complete.
I will carry this longing with me till the end of my days. It is carving out new places within me.
Advent is a season for longing. To hunger for our heart’s desire. To want more of God’s presence and peace. To yearn for a world that might be transformed by light rather than lust for its own darkness.
Children long for Christmas, of course. Mine are impatiently counting down days till the magic arrives. And this first practice of longing – the stretching of childhood’s desires over time’s dragging pace when presents and parties feel lightyears away – it is a good practice for adults to remember. What it felt like to long for something with our body and soul and every waking thought.
What would happen if we longed for God like that?
. . .
Let’s chat over wine or chocolate – like any good book club!
- What are you longing for in this Advent season?
Pull up a chair. You really want to know?
I’m longing for a world that looks drastically different from the one we’re in, and I’m longing to know how I can help change it. I’m longing for Maggie and Abby, whose absence and presence are braided throughout our lives, and I’m longing to know what the next chapter of our family’s story will bring. I’m longing for 2017, and I’m longing to put this wretched 2016 in the past.
(And because all of those longings loom large, I practice small daily longings for my husband’s heavenly Christmas cookies because this season is the PINNACLE of being married to a baker, amiright?)
- What are you longing for most deeply in your life right now?
I’m longing for clarity in the way forward. There are so many things I want to do, try, say, create, and become, so many books I want to write, so many leaps I want to take. I’m trying to channel these desires into deeper trust of whatever way forward God is preparing in my wilderness. To be honest, I’m longing for answers to questions but learning that answers are not the way.
How about you? Leave your thoughts on longing in the comments below.
. . .
If you want to read more about longing…
- Here’s my letter to couples with infertility, longing for children: Dear Couple in the Pew: I See You