No doubt, there were fish in the lake. And the men went out searching for them.
I watched them from the shore, pressing my hand against my eyebrows like a salute, to shield the sun. A loon cried its eerie cry. An eagle soared. The sun made that whole lake into one gigantic looking-glass of the heavens — home of God reflected here below.
And the men, they flew across the water in a Lund boat, leaving a long trail that made it look like the boat was unzipping the lake.
The sun trotted across the sky, shortening shadows, and then lengthening them again. My dad and my husband were on the lake for hours, and I would watch from shore, as they water-bugged from one place to the next.
My husband texted once: “We’re not catching a thing today.”
An hour later, they docked the boat. We all sunned ourselves a while. Kept our eyes open for hummingbirds and eagles. Watched the sun work its way to dusk.
And then my husband stood up and walked to the end of the dock, a few steps away.
He tossed a line into the water, and within moments, this —
“We’ve got something here!”
The weight of the fish curved the end of the pole. He handed the pole to one of the girls, so they could experience the thrill of bringing in a big one. There were squeals, and screeches, and much flip-flopping of man and beast at the end of the dock.
We took pictures. We howled with delight.
They threw the fish back, and then, minutes later. More squealing at the end of the dock. Another fish.
And another one after that.
And then a few more.
I watched from shore, smiling a smile that I felt all the way on the inside. Because I felt a truth that my heart had memorized.
A person can water-bug a way through life before she really finds it.
We imagine the other places inside of us – as we should. We want to run our fingers along the landscape of the elusive Something Else. We want to feel the contour of other worlds under our feet. We’re lured by the charm of faraway, and we’re certain that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, the other side of town, the other side of the tracks, the other side of the world.
The other side of a lake.
We feel a pull toward Other — toward any place that isn’t here.
And that’s not all bad, I tell you. Sometimes you’ve got to pack up and move and never-ever look back. It’s the only way you’ll really live free.
You’ve also got to experience some adventure in this life, and I don’t mean just by hopping a jet. You’ve got to live life out of your comfort zone. You’ve got to step to the edge of the world, and take one giant leap for the sake of your own soul. And that’s how you learn to soar — by taking that leap into the unknown. By agreeing that it’s okay to get lost, in order to get found.
Maybe it’s a bit like Thomas Merton once said:
“The geographical pilgrimage is the symbolic acting out an inner journey. The inner journey is the interpolation of the meanings and signs of the outer pilgrimage. One can have one without the other. It is best to have both.”
But at some point, you’ve got to find what home is — a place where you can live in the present, without fear of tomorrow or regret of yesterday.
And sometimes, you’ve got to look deep inside and ask yourself hard questions, like, “Am I trying to really live my life, or am I trying to escape it?”
It’s proper and wholly necessary to explore other places inside of us … and outside of us.
And maybe wanderlust is an incurable side effect of humanity, built in to each of us by our Maker. I remember now how God “set eternity in the hearts of men.” So maybe? Maybe we might never really have complete contentment until our feet find their way into our collective Forever – that place reflecting off the water just now.
But until I see the whole of what it means to be Home, I don’t want to walk too far away from where it beats strongest in me right now. And right now is a gift of the present moment, where my feet are planted.
I don’t want to forget that for all my searching, the fishing might be best closest to home.
Joining the blog tour for Emily Wierenga’s beautiful new memoir, “Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look.” A five-star read.
I have long been a fan of Emily Wierenga’s writing. I’ve read all of her books, and many of her blog posts over the years. But this? This is the shiny gem of them all. I read Atlas Girl slowly, savoring both her story and her writing. I would read many passages twice — first for the joy of her prose, and then for the value of her story. It’s exquisitely written, beautifully layered. And then, of course, comes the message … about the inward and outward journeys that we take during our years here on earth. Her journey? It’s like this compass, pointing us always toward home, always toward the heart of God.
Highly recommended read.
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