These are the chronicles of the esoteric . . .

THURSDAY, JANUARY 29, 2009

the heart of the matter

Being away from home makes you realise a lot of things - and more so when you return.

For one, you never fully recognise how much 'home' has in fact become.. well, home. The walls within which you sleep, eat, dress, rest, and all things such as these that accompany the living of life take root so that those walls become in some ways and in most ways your haven, your fortress, your refuge, your citadel - your place. Therefore, to be absent from home is indeed to be displaced.

Neither are you ever truly conscious of the changes that occur within you until you are put into a situation that recalls a similar happening but with different results. That is, the last time I visited Nicaragua I fell into a sort of solidarity with the country - I felt like I could belong there, that it could become my home. This time I did not share these feelings with my past self.
This is, however, not to say that I did not have a sense of 'home' in Nicaragua for I certainly felt a connection with the country - it is in my blood after all. Still, it was not the same strength or depth as it once was. Yes, this is where half my family is from - in fact, I am the first generation (even the first son!) on my mother's side to be born outside of Nicaragua - and I certainly could fit in. But I no longer could see the country truly becoming home.

Natsukashii is the Japanese term for 'homesickness' and 'longing.' Interestingly, I would learn this in Nicaragua. The book from which I had been taught explained that natsukashii is an existential descriptor for the pining we feel toward something or someplace - that is, it implies more than merely an emotional dissatisfaction and instead denotes a yearning within the being itself.1 It is not nostalgia in the sense that English generally understands it - as a sentimental and wistful feeling - but is an experience of emptiness, of being without.

To say 'I miss you' in Spanish is to speak the words 'Te me faltas.' Literally translated this means, 'You I lack,' or the more grammatically arranged, 'I lack you.' These Spanish words offer a deeper sense of separation and distance between the subject and object than what the English 'I miss you' is able. To miss is to fail at accomplishing something - to miss someone or something is to not be in possession of them or it. Thus, the Spanish faltar, I believe, better captures and names the meaning and reality of the feelings I experienced: A lacking. It was not merely the regret that someone or something was in absence, but in fact it was that my very being was incomplete - that my person, my identity, my self was lacking a piece of its core.

While in Nicaragua I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was wonderful to see those members of my family whom I essentially never get to see - and it was of course amazing to see the country that shapes a part of my heritage and thereby makes me who I am. During each moment, however, I had a longing within me - an anxious yearning - that left me somewhat disconnected; it was an experience of natsukashii for I was without. It was in these very moments that I truly felt the meaning of being a half. I felt fully for maybe the first time what it meant to have forfeit my individuality, my identity as 'I' for the place of dependence in the part of an intimate whole, the compound 'Us.' 'I' no longer existed in the way it did - 'I' now exists as a dependent half of a joint-entity relationship. The self I once was has now been bound to another self and intricately entwined with it so as to inexorably change the definition of my very being - that is, my center has been shifted from Self, from I to that of Us, of We.2

In the mutual act of volition here known as a love-commitment - the marriage covenant - 'I' becomes more than simply a single individual while at the same time is in fact replaced by a joint 'I' - an 'Us' - where two individuals become one compound individual - two threads entwined into an inseparable braid. As two intertwined threads a web is woven - a web whose design is shaped by the meaning and experiences we are given by divine hands. Thus, there are no longer two webs for, from the very beginning, they have been knitted together until they have now been made into one common fabric. Therefore, a spatial separation is a serious severing for it is the beginning to the physical tearing apart of a braid - the splitting of flesh.3

Hence, to be in Nicaragua was, for the most part, creating a rift in my sense of being for I had left something - that is, someone - behind that is more precious to me. And for that reason I could not find myself at home anywhere other than where she was, for I had found that my home was not within the walls of a house nor could it even be a country. My home, my place is where she is. And so I could not be home in Nicaragua for home was in fact waiting for me.

And all this is to say the fundamental statement which is encompassed by three English words addressed to whom is the other half to my existential web, completing the home we build: Rebekah, I love you.



1. See Elaine McInnes' Zen Contemplation for Christians: A Bridge of Living Water for her brief discussion in the first chapter.
2. See Robert F. Capon's An Offering of Uncles, pp.116-120.
3. Genesis 2:23-35; Mark 10:4-9



[posted by ericjordan at 0717 hrs]  

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