I can’t say when I actually left home. I’m not sure I have ever actually done the ‘Three little pigs’ thing and gone out to seek my fortune, napsack on my back. Leaving home, the family where I grew up, has been a process that began the year after finishing school at Hillcrest High School, Natal, South Africa. It is a long story full of adventure. What I can say is that between then and now I have definitely left home far behind.
Did you know that foreigners are often mentioned alongside the widow and the orphaned in the bible as needing extra doses of TLC. I was reminded of the reason why while writing home recently.
Writing Home ……
It’s a Tuesday, my favourite day, sandwiched between two working days.Tuesdays are celebrated by a good, long walk through beautiful English countryside after dropping Joanna at school. This morning as I waded through a meadow hip-high in pink and gold grasses, probably boasting up to 50 different varieties, I suddenly felt adrift in the sea of grass. It’s the time of the horrible-hormones which is like losing all control of the tuning on one’s radio so that the stations all play simultaneously at full volume. Gone is the option to choose serene Classic FM or thought provoking Radio 4 or energising Radio 1. It’s like an emotional Maypole dance twisted into a mass of confused ribbon. Like being compelled to use too many similes. But as I prayed, I became aware of a steady rhythmic heart- sore beat and the Spirit of all wholeness, being Holy, helped me discern its true song. “Ek Verlang ….”. So much so that I can only dare acknowledge it in a foreign tongue. It’s buried deep you see for practical purposes. But the God in whom we live and move and have our being knows. And so standing in the sea of grass, watched by sentinels of Oak and Ash, a strangled cry escaped me to join the chorus of the crows. Simultaneously knowing, as C.S. Lewis reminds us, that being homesick is a human condition as are we not all ultimately homeward bound?
Up and over the next style, with its friendly footpath logo, I start to log what it is I miss. For starters, the distance between me and tea-on-my-parents veranda is simply mindboggling. Completely confuses the inner-Cavewoman. Then there is the indulgence of peeping from under my sun-hat at the intoxicating shimmering blue of the Indian Ocean, as I lie sleepily upon the sand while someone else cleans my home and sorts my laundry. I miss familiar faces. Familiar sights and sounds. Two Zulu women conversing loudly-with-laughter. I miss the opportunity of seeing South African theatre and of hearing South African music live. I miss hikes in the Drakensberg and far reaching horizons where blue-blue sky meets land or sea. That African bush that stretches on and on and on as it does in Hluhluwe Nature Reserve. I really miss living in a country where my choice of word for where I wee does not invoke a subterranean class war. ‘Loo’ or ‘Toilet’, come orf it you carn’t be serious mun, Poo!
And so while passing through a scrap of woodland I allow myself to weep in amongst the nettles and dappled rays of sun, leaving languid cows behind me, heading for a field of wheat beyond. Over a style I climb and find the heart sore drum beat is in decline, the childish longing for a mum- and- dad- at- hand acknowledged and embraced, can now subside. I take pleasure in my purpose-driven stride, to exercise in beautiful countryside. Grateful for the side-order of psychological processing , ‘on the house’. After all the best things in life are for free.