I spent a few days last week at a conference in the great land of Anglia, that blurry-edged place that makes me feel like I've mixed my English-speaking home with Middle Earth and the United Nations. It's true that it feels like a surrogate home in different ways, a step toward the one I'm an ocean away from and a step toward the one I was made for.
It was lovely and full and set my head doing circles around itself (as it is wont to do). I know I'm forever writing about the sky, but there's this: driving back around dusk, the sky a Chinese watercolor, I thought, this could be Wilmington. I know this place. And so I said something, only because I'm nostalgic, only because the lines constantly draw themselves to other places. (You see what you end up with? It's a tangled mess, but it's a mess in which you can have your heart stretched between places, on and between so many continents, and yet have it whole.)
The person I was riding with surprised me by saying that the sky there is actually different than it is over continental Europe. This is an Atlantic sky, he said. A wet sky.
I'm back in Pitesti now, the place where the sky was the first thing I loved, and for a while, the only thing. But this place is teaching me about willful love, about the decision of it. How many opportunities have I had to practice this in these last six years? How many more will there be? I think of Abram, of God pointing him toward the stars: "if you can count them." This is a loose idea, one I'm writing as I think, but there's the idea of that too being an inheritance.
My mind is wandering now, landing somewhere near a conversation I had a few hours ago with two students from Palestine. You come back to the question of home and place, of being pulled asunder. Could there be wholeness? I have a place I've grown from and another I'm growing toward, and meanwhile there are roots shooting outward, everywhere. But this, what they are saying, this is something altogether different. What if you believe there is a hope for both home and reconciliation, that in fact there is a great reconciler? That "if you can count them" is a promise fulfilled outside of yourself?
But living it--that is something else, isn't it? For me, the hope of a true home and a way to persist in love only come together. They come out of the words it is finished; I am reminded of them as I turn, surprised to see across Pitesti to the hills in the north, a teeming sky above Rasnov, tekhelet. But I wonder. These answers are easy--they are true, yes, but they're also easy. And living it, knowing it in the face of much harder things--it's something beyond having a right theology. And how on earth do I point people to it?
The thread is gone now, I think, all frayed out into more questions. And they keeping coming.