Thanksgiving week in the USA...lots of "homecomings" in process and on the way! I myself arrived home yesterday from an adventurous 4 days of backpacking in Spain--my first "return" to Germany as "home." Well, the truth is that I was loaded down with a backpack, a fairly heavy camera, and also an oversize purse-type bag in addition to my backpack, which I wore messenger-style and regretted the extra weight with every step I took on my blistered left foot. : ) But I'm still impressed with myself that I packed so light--even though my sister was probably five-times as far away from home and travelling five days longer than I and STILL had less stuff than I packed.
But that's beside the point. I'm not writing just yet about the trip (although I promise there are lots of pictures to share soon!). Because for me, this trip was really all about the homecoming.
I think I knew this even before I left. This "vacation" wasn't entirely for the purpose of seeing Spain or seeing my sister. Strangely, I didn't even think much in advance about what I wanted to do and see while we were there. I'm serious. I just barely even looked at the map. I'm not the best planner, especially when deep in my heart I wanted so badly just to stay home. I've wished several times this past year for a trip to Spain, the only reason it actually happened is because it turned out that's where my sister was going to be, and there was no question that I'd make the short trip to see her since she'd be so much closer than the usual ocean away!
Spain was wonderful--of course it was. What an amazing opportunity to reconnect with my sister on such a beautiful adventure. The time away was good, even though the "restfulness" of that time is questionable, since carrying my bags was probably harder work than carrying my daughters! They are indeed the cuter and sweeter "burdens" to bear--not burdens at all, in fact, but the joys of my life.
But the best part of the trip? Coming home. Seeing this place with new eyes. Seeing my people with new eyes. I had already decided that this holiday season, I was going to make this apartment my "masterpiece"--focus a little less on painting and more on making "art" of my home. Suddenly, I am drawn to my knees with thankfulness for my little safe haven--and it doesn't feel forced; it's not thanks uttered through gritted teeth (even though the more difficult thanksgiving was probably the dark soil where the seed of change first began to germinate).
Nothing here has changed--I am the one who is beginning to change. And instead of just talking and theorizing about finding the beauty in the mess that this family makes, for the first time I actually SEE it and my heart spontaneously overflows.
My kitchen is cozy. My living room glows with light and love. My bedroom is soft and peaceful and safe. My girls have dimples that I forgot about, new words that I never heard them say before in voices more musical than I remembered. And my husband is taller and stronger and more patient and wise than I ever could have dreamed--PLUS he washed loads and loads of laundry, which he promptly hung to dry (veeery important if you don't want clothes smelling worse when they're clean than when they're dirty) and neatly put away in closets now overflowing with my favorite, fresh-linen scent.
I didn't "find" myself in Spain. I only remembered how much of myself I have lost in the embrace of these people I love--in the embrace of these walls of home that rise up to protect and even to close in around us sometimes, inspiring continual cycles of resistance and acceptance, selfishness and sacrifice, escape and return.
Yes, I have lost myself and I love it--because it is in the losing of your heart that that love multiplies and you find a life more expansive than your one little self can bear.