Each of us is part of a Greater Story and behind our stories is a Storyteller calling us home. The deepest longing I have is to come home to my own heart, so in a sense I am writing this book for myself. But it is not just about me, for I believe all our stories are of longing and of looking.
That has become very clear to me as I have read and reread the notes and journals I have kept in recent years. For many years, “journey” was a call to go as I travelled the world in ministry. “Home” was an equally powerful inner voice calling me to stay, to be rooted. Now I realize that these were not the only two ways I spent my time but also a response to two notes of my own song; the lure of the road and the call home.
The call was to be “home on the road”, to bring my real self before the real God, to be changed into his true image, to become all that God has made me to be. It was and is a longing to belong, to have a home for God in my heart.
This sense of longing runs like an underground river through the writings of many observers of the human condition, like the novelist Walker Percy. A character in his Love in the Ruins, the lapsed Catholic psychiatrist Tom More, sits in a sand trap on a golf course and muses, “The sand trap and the clouds put me in mind of being ten years old and in love and full of longing. The first thing a man remembers is longing and the last thing he is conscious of before death is exactly the same longing. I have never seen a man die who did not die in longing.”
Yet why do I so often hide from this longing? Spiritual attentiveness, I believe, comes in large part from our fear of being known for who we really are. Often we keep ourselves busy and distracted because we fear that if we slow down and are still, we may look inside and find nothing there.
Adapted from The Attentive Life (2008, InterVarsity Press)