Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Did You Smell the Lilacs?

I am in love with lilacs. I know, I know, you can't be in love with a flower. But I am! I love their small clusters of purple blossoms and their joyful dance with the breeze. I love how they grow everywhere. I love how faithful they are to spring, even when the rain hurls itself at the ground and the sky goes gray and the world shudders under cold May drizzle. I love that they smell like the best of spring - a hint of rain, a touch of blossoming... they smell just as flowers should.

They remind me of England. I don't know why. Maybe it's their loyal spirit - when I take the moment to look for them on my drive home, or my drive to work, they are always there, though always hidden. They are patient with me every spring, like England is patient with me every year that I long to go and can't find the money, the time, the peace of spirit to make a trip happen.

I wonder - have you ever longed to be a place so badly you thought you might burst with it? If it is a prairie in Kansas or the mountains of Colorado or the hot sun of Pretoria or the sweet tea laden Mississippi or maybe the marché in Aix-en-Provençe? Have you yearned your heart into that place, even if just for one small intake of breath?

I've been feeling that way about Greystones, Somerset, England all week long.

Yesterday I had the most wonderful thought as I drove home along Route 22 (one of my favorite winding roads). I thought, "I feel like I'm in England!" The rain outside the car windows, the gentle hum of music in the background, the anticipation of a whistling kettle and the really excellent mug of tea (perhaps even, on the cold and rainy day, an escape into a good book with fleece blankets and soft lamp lighting?).

I take a pencil to my imagination and my mind is drawing the world as I think it would be: I'm older but not too much, making a go in the world of writing, keeping chickens in the backyard, having at least two dogs and two cats and a rambunctious family and even though everything, everywhere is noise somehow I'm quiet. I'm taking time to snap a picture of the gurgling stream and gather lilacs growing in a corner of the field. I'm watching the miracle of the world brush my cheeks clean of the mess of the day. I'm the same and I'm different.

A pause, a gasp. The thought seemed almost too revolutionary to be true. "What if this summer, I lived out all the peacefulness and all the exuberance and all the whole-hearted slowness that I imagine I could live over there?" Another pause. Another audible gasp. My exasperated and gleeful wide-eyed stare: yes, I think I want to do that. Yes, my heart says. Yes!

When we yearn for those places we're also yearning for who we become when we're in them. 

And maybe you can't don your beret and let French roll deliciously off your tongue in the middle of the Boston metro, but can't you be the same curious, anthropology-learner, lover of that country? You can't find the same breathtaking prairie, maybe, but could you breath the summer air slowly into your lungs and let it fill you? You can't feel the Mississippi humidity but could you read "A Rose for Emily" or "Good Country People" and let Faulkner and O'Connor feed you?

We can become the people we long to be there, here. We can smell the lilacs at the corners of fields and listen to the rain and enjoy the clatter of fingers on keyboards, knowing that here, He meets us and loves us and waits for us. Nowhere else but here. 

Love, from my yearning heart,

1 comment:

  1. That description of who you want to be? That sounds like Madeleine L'Engle. Have you read her Crosswicks Journals? I think you'd find them beautiful and satisfying.

    I'm going to think on that idea, now. Where do I long to be? And who? Sometimes in the busyness I don't stop to think about who I want to be, and I need to. Thank you for the reminder!


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