I had a strange dream last night. Two eagles soared above a wooded hill. It was just this – the eagles, the sky, and the hill, which I had no trouble recognising even in my dream. This, and so much more…
But I had always thought that eagles no longer lived there…they had always been a rare sight to begin with. What could this possibly mean?
I think that, ever since I can remember, I always knew that I had a home. I belonged. The house where I grew up, the street where I played, the village which witnessed my transformation and passing from one season of life into another – this little world, which was once so big, was home. It was everything to me.
But I do not think now that it really was everything, but rather, a door to that everything which I was born desiring. As hungry as I was in my first days to see, feel, and explore the mysteries around me, I somehow knew, even then, that there was more to life, that the world around me hid secrets which surpassed even the ones which unfolded before me each day as I discovered them. The dance of the butterflies in the vast prairie which was our back garden, the flight of the swallows in the heat of the summer day, the cry of the owls which called to each other in the stillness of the night – it all whispered to me of a reality which, though mysterious and fascinating, filled me with some unknown longing to know, see, and touch something which it could not offer.
I am a man now, and I have a family. I live far away from the place where once such magic took place. Indeed, when one grows up, if one is fortunate enough to have kept in touch with the young and tender places within, one could easily (and mistakenly) start thinking that the beautiful mysteries of the childhood home, the sweet harmony of the simple life, and the old friends, are indeed what one needs, and longs for. It is very likely then, as I myself know only too well, that nostalgia, sorrow, and depression will slowly creep in as thieves, each one making a way for the next, and steal the joy of the later years. In such conditions, especially if change never comes, I myself would prefer to be a selfish fool, a parasite even, living only for pleasures, rather than being a whole-hearted man who groans daily under the unseen and unbearable burden of the lost years.
‘If only I can be there again,’ sighs the heart, devastated by the pain with which abounds even in the happiest human life.
The best moments of our life call to us, whisper to us, and, as those fools we sometimes are, we rush in and, unable to restore the past, and unwilling to listen to what it tells us, we seek to recreate it as best we know how. I do not need to tell you what your ways of recreation and escape are – if you are reading this, you are probably already thinking, or have thought about them. This is normal. It is to be expected. ‘Everybody has a hungry heart,’ sings Bruce Springsteen, and boy, is he right.
When I dream of things forgotten, or remind myself of what has once been mine, I cannot help but desire to return there. My own little heaven. My home. I have indeed, lived many years under the heavy cloud of the sorrow which comes when the soul realises that it would never be filled. Fortunately, things are different now, at least in terms of perspective. And I can now remember far more than I did when my soul was blinded by its hunger. I remember how, even in the best of days, my longings and appetites were never really sated, back in that heavenly place. I remember how the smells, the view, and creatures which moved mysteriously before my eyes, did little to quiet the my groaning young heart, but only increased its sweet torment. I will never forget…
The first bright, warm rays of sunshine which penetrated the room with laser-like sharpness during the summer vacation. The cool, pleasant feeling of the water around my bare feet during the endless days of fishing in the river. The heavy, thick blanket of snow, covering the hushed village late in the night, whispering of the joy which always came with the Christmas season. The friendly street which never felt less home than home itself, since it never forced one`s heart to shrink a little and tense up in a way that it does when one lives in the city, surrounded by strangers. Old stories which, even though speaking of wild and daring deeds, whispered their ancient assurance of the blessed peace which now reigned, and will reign forever. A world, made to endure, like Tolkien`s Shire. My paradise. My home.
Yet, I can now be honest enough to admit that there was something missing, even in that paradise, even before the darkness, the confusion, the violence, and the search for pleasures consumed the years of my youth…yes, even in the sacred innocence of my childhood, something was missing in the world around me. As I grew up and searched, in darkness, and in light, this sense, the feeling that something was missing did not go away.
No, I did not have a real home, not even then, when wonder, joy, and amazement filled my days. I had a home, and a good home it was, but I was nonetheless, homesick.
Where have you searched for your home…?
Do you, like me, sometimes find yourself travelling hundreds, even thousands of miles, to arrive home, only to discover that even there, in that holy place, you are still…homesick? Isn`t our home then, only a door through which we can catch a glimpse of the home we were born desiring? Are we maybe so out of touch with the true reality, like a drunk man who struggles to recognise the faces of his own family? yes, I think we are…we all are. Something has happened to our race, a dark veil has been cast over our planet, and we can now see only a faint shadow of what we are, and what we desire. But this does not make the object of our desire less real. No, but our dearest, precious, most sacred memories, people, places, and events, are telling us something about it. They whisper of our true home, but they themselves are, as C.S.Lewis put it ‘only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.’
The eagles will soar again.