We are storytelling beings. Our lives are story. Chapters, sentences, written not just with ink and pen, but in the very fabric of our souls. In ocean waves and galaxy glimmers and sky expanses. In tears shed over terminal arrivals and departures, joys from laughter and traces of the lovely within the details, in heartache and the not quite at home feeling that settles into our bones, in the moments we connect and destroy and wonder on the best of days why all still never seems right. Written in the ways you buy coffee for the stranger behind you, sit in silence with others when the heaviness threatens to rip them apart, in the sound of children running with abandon, in the shared sensations of favorite characters in shows – pointing back to how we are all characters, with something to learn.
And right now I have a thousand stories buried within. I want to write them, to make sense of the jumbled narratives, the breathtaking twists, the eternal + permanent forever-all-else-shattering kind of inner dialogue and discoveries, to voice all that my little self, my now-old-soul-heart, still dreaming of becoming that writer one day, all that this self has experienced. I’ve been through the harrowing, the keep-you-up-at-night type of situations, the colors bleeding into one another aspects, the silver lined shadows, and the most everyday of things. And I’ve been impacted deeply by stories read and heard in this season.
One day in the life, a twenty four hour episode of this season in my story comes to the front. It’s now six months from that day, and I’m reminded of the beauty of it. Less than twenty four hours after saying my last goodbye to my mom, I headed home, but not the place you might think. I wandered, exhausted, back to my college home, to the friends that have been a safe space in this can’t-breathe way of life lately.
Home has been a weird concept lately. Strangely out of touch, distorted.
Yet campus has become more of home than I could have ever dreamed. These people, they are family. Sitting there on that couch, cyring, praying, sharing stories, I will never lose sight of that. Numb and in shock, I traveled back to the campus in the cornfields that I call home three-fourths of the year. To break away from the heaviness that existed in every step at my childhood home, to release it all and tell stories to humans not directly involved. To try and put some thoughts right side up or going in the same direction, through the patient listening of others. In that moment, I was home.
Yet as the months have worn on and worn me down, there has still been this longing. For something, anything really to bear a resemblance to what I loved before. The faded velvet pews of the chapel I hid away in at church weren’t the answer. The room with the soft canopy and decorations from the dreamer’s world of senior year was not it. The best coffee shops where you felt alive and inspired to create weren’t it. The outdoor venue with the scent of snowcones, sounds of splashing fountains, and movie theaters were the screen pushed you into bigger dreams was not it. The concert arenas where the music floods through your system and echoes through every heartbeat wasn’t it.
So this summer, I stayed restless, knowing I would never find it, but wishing beyond dreams that it would come. For some reason, the images from Narnia: Prince Caspian and the train station scene + The Last Battle ending, came to mind. I found solace in them. A waiting, a magical anticipation to step on the shore and enter into a world that was actually home. A reminder wrapped up into a great story that there is more to our stories than our eyes behold.
There was a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly. Your father and mother and all of you are–as you used to call it in the Shadowlands–dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.
And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them…
All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.
These are the Shadowlands, where we live right now. But there is more to the story. We are in that tension, waiting to go back to Narnia, for all to be set right and settled within our restless hearts. And so we go on great adventures now, while putting our hopes on that which is to come.
Also re-entering my brain, a significant, tucked away scene from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Many movie marathons of these films have happened, and this scene still strikes me every time. It comes at the end of The Return of the King, when all hope of victory seems to be short.
Pippin: I didn’t think it would end this way.
Gandalf: End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.
Pippin: What? Gandalf? See what?
Gandalf: White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.
Pippin: Well, that isn’t so bad.
Gandalf: No. No, it isn’t.”
The imagery used right here is incredible and yet another reminder that our hearts are longing for something far better than what we view right now.
This world is not what we live for. The words flashed across the screen. And it was the message that put the disordered storm brewing within my bones into perspective. It was a weight that had been invisibly resting deep on my shoulders for days, events, the ordinary inbetween moments that make up my life. And so I’ve been discovering that this world is not home. We are on the edge waiting to arrive in the world where we belong. For now we live in the inbetween.
And that is an okay place to be.
For now, I’m discovering that home is found in being rooted and grounded in Christ’s love. But that’s another story for another time.
Here’s to shadowlands, silver glass, and our true home.