Friday, December 18, 2009

Homesick in Our Homes

Christmas Poem by G.K. Chesterton

There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.

For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.

Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honour and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.

A child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost—how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky’s dome.

This world is wild as an old wife’s tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall all men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.

Thanks to semicolon where I found this poem today, a good reminder of important truths of the season.  This Advent period is when we remember how we are "homesick in our homes." The reality of that estrangement and fallenness and longing is a good bit of why we get physically sick, or sick and tired of various features of our earthly life.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!


Janet said...

Last year I read, and remained in, Isaiah 11 during Advent. It fanned the flame of that homesickness. O come O come Emmanuel indeed.

gretchen from lifenut said...

"And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star."

Just wow.

Thanks for sharing this.

Pom Pom said...

Years ago, at camp in British Columbia, I noticed college students longing for "home" but not an earthly home. They craved the home this poem speaks of. They would try to order their bunk, their meals, their responsibilities as they worked there, up in the fjords of the Princess Louisa Inlet. This place smelled of wet trees, lush green ferns and wood smoke. The view was high mountains jutting out of the water, toward the sky and cold salty waters with an occasional seal quietly gliding along. The meals were communal in a dining room built on rocks,overlooking rapids. It was such a metaphor to me, the way the young people loved this temporary home as they longed for true HOME. Oh, that we would allow our hearts more space and time to hear the call of HOME.