I was standing at the kitchen sink scrubbing the collar of my husband’s white shirt. It’s a weekly ritual here in Morocco—the-biting-of-the-tongue-I-can-get-this-clean routine. It begins with zeal and ends in resolution. After nearly a year of substandard revolutions in our “play” washing machine, most of our whites are decidedly dingey in spite of repeated bleaching and “Mad Scientist” experimentation with commercial products we doggedly drag home from the market.
And most of the clothes that we very carefully laid out to pack for 18 months back on the floor in our bedroom at home—in spite of our best planning, we got so much of that just plain wrong! We need nice clothes about .097% of the time here. They hang limply in the closet sniffling from neglect while our workhorse clothes show up for duty day after day after day. And just too many coats! Shopping for clothes in foreign countries is a grab bag of size and quality discrepancies. Lots of planets have to align. Think “needle in a haystack”.
Clothing wasn’t our only miscalculation. In spite of Morocco’s world-famous readily available plethora of exotic spices, time after time we find ourselves just wanting to reach comfortably for a good basic spice combination with a taste of home. Maybe some taco seasoning. Why oh why didn’t we tuck every extra air hole in our bags with BaconBits? Ranch dressing powder? Peanut butter? Brown sugar?
As a caveat, we are thriving. Our days are delightful and our adventures satisfying. In light of our humanitarian directive, our occasional cravings for unobtainable pork products and brighter whites pale indeed. But that didn’t stop me thinking at the kitchen sink with reddening knuckles as I scrubbed, “Wouldn’t it be lovely to just have one day at home? Just one. To refresh, rejuvenate, replenish, reboot if you will. To send all our clothes through one complete cycle to get them clean!”
I would use that day wisely—a big noisy family dinner, a long lazy session under a blanket reading to grandkids, dropping in on my knitting group, strolling through my English garden, stroking books in our library, rubbing my hands along the fireplace mantle, choosing something to knit, maybe reaching comfortably for an ingredient in the pantry, perhaps weeding a little. I’d spend the day hugging and greeting, and at the end I’d grab a BLT and a few other things and return to missionary duties renewed!
These mortal leanings are normal, I suppose. The dichotomy of the desire for service and the lure of home with the creature comforts it represents is real– the passion to impact change superceded briefly by the urge for just one shaker of clumpless salt, the willingness to exchange all the splendor of a magnificent perfect Moroccan winter day for just one touch of a grandchild’s chubby cheek.
This is a dangerous rabbit hole to even skirt around, but in the spirit of full disclosure, allow me to confess a longing deeper than usual lately of the very real urgency to go home–not to our little hobby farm in the mountains, but to the Home home from whence we all came. The whisperings of a home “further up and further in” (C.S. Lewis) come strong as I grow older.
As things appear to be catapulting out of control in the world, my inner child looks around for a comfort toy and a secure lap. The more society falls short of resolution, the more my soul seeks it. I long for familiar smells from a celestial kitchen of which I have no memory but of which I have full faith existed. I yearn for the sounds and the vibrations of presences around me with whom I share intelligence and emotions. This is all as real to me as the need for just one day listening to migratory birds from our deck in Bear Lake. The ache for it proves its existence.
Given just one day in my spirit home, I’d probably lie for a long time in the grass and just feel that world around me. I would wander the fields—hopefully with a familiar dog friend– and bask in the constant radiant warmth of my Heavenly Parents’ presence. I’d hope for a big big BIG family dinner. Perhaps I would be allowed to throw a dingey bundle of something into a washing machine of sorts to brighten it up! Questions. Answers. Reassurances. Fortification. Blessings. What could I grab to get me through until I could come home again? And then I would come back. Reluctantly.
All this prompted by a dirty shirt collar.