When my heart is in retreat.

I let the tears flow, under the cover of darkness, while I lay on the girl’s bed listening to them pray. Aaron’s arms wrapped tight around me as we listened, as if he could feel the tears I wanted no one to see.

I let them flow for distances that may never be bridged, for the home I want, and the home I miss, and the weariness of the journey.

I’m from a giant family. My dad was the 2nd of 11 siblings, my mother the 2nd of 8.

And most of them still all live within a few hours drive of each other. Many, if not most, in the town where I grew up.

 They all like each other, and get together for big celebrations, like the annual Canada Day weekend camp out at my grandparent’s farm.

So when I saw my family posting photos from the annual gathering I had to spend the rest of the night wiping tears away.

The spot where our wedding photos were taken.

 The simple version is that I get homesick, every so often. That place, and those people, they are my people. That is my place.

 And living here, on a limited budget, unable to afford to visit so far away, is hard sometimes.

The path to the spring.

You see, I have walked those paths my little cousins now walk countless times, from the time I was old enough to put on shoes and try to keep up. Before that I was carried. I’ve walked it in snow and in rain, all alone and with a crowd. My growing up is anchored by this place, these people.

Grandpa has been keeping those paths clear to walk on as long as I can remember. He lobbied really hard to have his farm declared a nature preserve, and it is. I don’t know if he’s is still maintaining the trails, his eyes are failing, but someone is. I hope someone always will.

I have worked out childish worries and angst, and grown up questions and worries as well, sitting on the cliff overlooking the river, one hand on the head of the current farm dog, always a faithful companion on a ramble.

There is a rhythm to life there that I find myself constantly seeking elsewhere, and failing to reproduce.

Every major holiday was at that place, and then all the little excuses just to get together had us out there too. Grandma loved to have a full house.

I spent weeks there in the summer, helping grandma garden, shelling peas on the front step, hanging laundry out to dry. (I still think of her every single time I hang the laundry, which is almost daily.)

When my immediate family fell apart for a while grandma’s house was still there, exactly the same. They were still there, exactly the same, all those people, aunts and uncles and cousins. To be loved by so many people is a remarkable thing, one I took for granted once.

Which isn’t to give you the impression that they are perfect. Arguing about things is a favorite past time with them, and they have their opinions honed to a razor edge. But they care deeply, and love long and faithfully,  reconcile when they disagree, and have the part about staying together and living life together sort of figured out.

I miss them.

Which is to explain how, even surrounded by my 4 children, with my wonderful husband’s arms around me, and my fantastic in-laws, of whom there are many, just down the road, I can still feel the lack brought on by a series of photos shared on facebook.

When I let myself fantasize about what I want these days it takes the shape of a big country house, chickens, dogs, goats and space to run. It involves Aaron actually being home, more than he’s away, and coming home before dinner every single night. In my fantasy I am no longer CFO of a growing organization, I’m just a mom, who has time to teach my children sewing, and sit on that back porch I want and play the guitar, an instrument I have not yet perfected the playing of. But in my fantasy I have a nice classical model, and I’ve taught myself to play it. I write, sure, and I am always on top of the home school schedule, but that is all.

You will all see right away what I finally realized. What I’m fantasizing about, truly, is going back to where I grew up, of living that simple life of work and rest and easy rhythm that provided my childhood with so much security, and so much joy.

My life is far from simple. No matter how hard I try to make it so. It turns out I’m not built well for change, and transition, and lack of permanence. I find it challenging. When I feel overwhelmed my heart retreats and grieves a little for what it no longer has.

It took forever to write this, because I was trying to figure out a point to it, which I haven’t. This is just me, telling you about where I grew up, and how much I miss it sometimes, and making you look at pictures.

I hope you don’t mind.

Most of these photos were taken from family members, to replace the originals that inspired this post, but somehow went missing.

all content © Carrien Blue

12 thoughts on “When my heart is in retreat.

  1. Can I just say Amen? It would take too long to explain here, but I understand that restless, persistent longing for home and family far away. And for the many many simple joys of a large extended family in a close geographic area.  Its a rare blessing, even the ache of missing it.

  2. Hi.I have never commented before.But what you wrote so beautifully..I understand completely.I moved from Europe to Australia to be with my Aussie husband , it was anadventure. Now with 3 young children it is no longer so but often a struggle with feelings of not fitting in and the heartbreak of homesickness.So…i understand you. Be kind to yourself

  3. That was beautiful Carrien. It is true for us all when we are far from home. We are indeed blessed.

  4. Oh, Canada! What a beautiful place! My heart has done this often – reminisced over the freedom and space I enjoyed as a child in a small town – and mourned for the loss of it.  Especially for my children, since I have chosen now to be a 'city girl' instead of ensuring that my daughters experience the space that I did… sigh. Beautiful post. 

  5. I was just reminiscing over past times today too.  I took my son for a drive around a place my grandparents used to live.  The lake to fish and swim, all the woods for roaming and building forts, the roads we traversed by foot or on go-carts and bicycles, and the back pastures we road the horses through.  It makes me weepy when I think of it.  I think most especially because both of those grandparents are with the Lord now and I miss them.

  6. I'm a strange creature, I think, because my heart is split between nomadic dreams and the desire for roots.  We moved a handful of times when I was growing up; change feels normal to me, and I guess I'm blessed that it does since our current military lifestyle has taken us all over.  Nevertheless, I find myself longing for Home, for a place with a deep-seated foundation, for walls that house memories older than me. 

    I pray you find peace as you hold the homesickness and the calling of current life in your hands.  

  7. i haven't been reading for a while, life just seems to have changed somehow and i've found less time to be able to read the blogs i love (only a couple really)… so, i'm just catching up. i like going back to where i last read and start from there, even though i can tell in scrolling back that a lot has happened and is happening for you and i can't wait to read it all properly! but tonight i read this. how blessed you were to grow up in one place surrounded by family in the way you were. having moved a lot growing up, i appreciate that being nomadic has its advantages, although i always take awhile to adjust to a new idea, as my husband in finding out! but there are times when i catch a glimpse through another's eyes, like yours, about the beauty of having roots and having some people who really, actually know you pretty well and where you've come from. thanks for sharing your heart.

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