Loneliness is an aching, breaking
parting of the heart
and the ways
as the days drift into the dark of
American night after night and I
sigh and miss the deep blue, black African sky.
I have been homesick as long as I can remember. I have lived in South Africa and missed the America of my husband and his beautiful, all encompassing, soul-welcoming family. I have lived in America and missed the smells and sounds and rhythms of Africa so much that my gut ached in a way no food could fill. And I have lived in Ukraine and felt for the first time travel connected to Peter in our shared sense of being stranded between countries.
I find that distance, much more than absence, is what makes the heart grow fonder. Human beings were not designed to live so far from the ones they love and Skype only scratches the surface of keeping in touch. We were made to live inside, not alongside, each other’s stories.
It’s the everyday moments of doing life over breakfast, between carpooling and while brushing our teeth elbow-to-elbow that stitches us together. Slowly, with a long thread, relationships are joined and families hemmed in one patch at a time, one unraveling story at a time, one frayed decision at a time.
Relationships require personal attention; they cannot thrive on mere pixels on a screen.
I think this holds true on line as well. We are flesh and blood creatures who require flesh and blood interactions. And as women we may also need a dose of high paced, high speed conversation held at no more than two feet apart. We need to be in the same space. In real time. Up close and personal.
I love me some twitter but I crave the words that step off the confines of the page and wrap their arms around me and tell me their stories in their own voices over hash browns or peanuts and cheese or chocolate covered strawberries.
We were made for community. We are a body that would prefer not to be disembodied.
So when we have the chance to knit ourselves back together – sometimes for the first time; sometimes when we’ve never met before, we grab it with both hands. We reach through the computer screen and grab hold of the twitter handles we’ve been following for so long and just hug the women behind ‘em so tight, tight, I-can’t-believe-I’m-finally-meeting-you-tight.
We are the long lost, far flung family that craves connection beyond the comment box and conversation beyond the confines of 600 words per post. And this weekend a few miles from Hershey, PA, a group of us got to do just that.
It was the special.
And you who came? We couldn’t hold you tight enough. And you who didn’t? We couldn’t have missed you more. And goodness gracious but we’d like to do it again.
How about December 3-4th? This time in Birmingham, Alabama? Have you heard of the Deeper Still Conference featuring Beth Moore, Kay Arthur, and Priscilla Shirer? Because 12,000 of your girl friends have. And we’d like to send 10 (in)courage readers to join them. Yup, you heard us right. Ten tickets up for grabs! Ten chances to hug the necks of friends you haven’t met yet. Ten ways to go and soak in the wisdom of Beth, Kay, and Priscilla.
A bunch of (in)courage writers will be there; a crew of Compassion Bloggers are coming. We’d love to send you too.
One entry per person if you are an (in)courage subscriber, twitter follower or Facebook fan – just leave a comment telling us why community that is up close and in person is so vital and you’ll be entered to win. Contest open till Monday night (11/1) at 1o pm EST. Winners announced Tuesday (11/2).
We’re all ears.