Throughout history, stories have been told, songs have been sung, and depictions in art have touched on the longing for home. Part of the human condition is a deep seeded longing for home. A place to belong. As an Army Chaplain spouse, I can say this longing is painfully evident in the military life. Military families have no physical home in which we stay long. And unlike most families outside the military community, the brevity of each home is something we deal with on a constant basis.
We long for a place to grow and root and thrive, not only for ourselves, but our children. Every time our spouse receives orders, we uproot. It is difficult to watch our kids breaking away from the home, school, and friends that they are attached to. Every time we move, I feel my children’s emotional and physical pain at doing so, and it hurts me more than my own pain of uprooting.
However, there is this aspect of moving that is adventurous. It offers a fresh start; I think I secretly hope I will find my true “home” at the next place.
Not Truly Home
A year and a half ago we moved to Oklahoma, where the military base is in a small town, surrounded by cotton fields and cow farms, and a wildlife refuge with a small mountain range. There is something about the place that reminds me of “home.” The home I knew as a child.
There is nothing like looking south, out over the prairie and the never-ending sea of grass or white cotton (depending on the season). The wind blowing sometimes whispers and sometimes rages, not too unlike a majestic overture. The serenity of the place has soothed my soul.
It could be “home,” yet it is not truly home. I have never felt like I could stay here for long, perhaps because I knew I couldn’t. I knew orders would come and move us again. My desire for home has not been satisfied here, despite the tranquility and peacefulness, and my wandering heart longs to move. Yet at the same time I want to stay. The conflict within my heart may be difficult for most to understand, yet I think this is exactly how many other military spouses feel.
In a few short months we will be moving again. I anticipate the new location and home with expectant joy, even though I know that the new destination won’t be my true “home.”
Longing for Our Eternal Home
One of my favorite books is “Till We Have Faces” by C.S. Lewis. In it the main character says, “The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing — to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from — my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home?” As I read this book, the main character’s longing for “home,” a longing which is only touched upon by any earthly place, resonated with me. It is quite contrary to modern thought.
It seems crazy that a longing that is not fulfilled can be the sweetest thing in our life. Yet, I think we all have moments when a pang of longing fills us with such joy that we can hardly breathe. Sometimes it’s a night sky. Other times, it’s a melody we hear or a painting we view. I have felt it when reading poetry and classic novels.
“Longing for Home” by Rebekah Cochell
C.S. Lewis believed that the reason why this longing is crucial and beautiful is that this longing is really our longing for heaven, our true home. All of us are displaced aliens in a world in which we pass through, and we were really made for another. Sometimes the beauty in this world reflects some facet of God and His Heaven, and that’s when we are reminded that there is so much more than this physical realm.
And what does this have to do with the constant transitions inherent to a military lifestyle?
For me, it gives assurance that finding home wouldn’t be satisfied even if we lived in a place for many years (and my bohemian soul just might go stir crazy anyway).
I can look at this transitory lifestyle and appreciate how much it affords. The adventure of living near a new mountain range, a new sky, and a new town allows one to see places on Earth that many never can. The ability to meet so many different people, of all races and ethnicities, makes the journey richer. Up until now, we haven’t had popular or “glamorous” assignments, but every place has been a chance to find utterly beautiful places and we have met amazing people. And I look forward to our new temporary home where I know that I will find places which will fill me anew with this longing for my eternal home.
And I know that if there is so much beauty in this world, there will be so much more in our forever home.
About the Author:
Rebekah is the wife of James, an Army Chaplain and teaching elder of the PCA. They have three children who are 21, 19, and 16. They currently live near Fort Sill, Oklahoma. After years of teaching art privately and in classical Christian schools, she decided to pursue an MFA in Studio and Digital Arts 2017 and is completing her internship this spring. She loves illustrating, designing, painting, reading, writing, hiking and photography. Currently, she is actively involved teaching alongside her husband and other chaplains when they hold Strong Bond (relationship and resiliency training) events. She integrates art activities into the training to enhance the effectiveness and retention. She also enjoys facilitating painting events, for organizations that support Army families, such as EFMP and ACS.