There are times in the year, winter being one of them, when the longing to travel comes to the surface. The dark days bring back memories of the fun travels Douglas and I have had. But I started traveling long before I married my husband.
I blame my parents. I blame them for leaving their home in 1968 and going to Germany to learn German. I blame them for bringing my brother and I to Liverpool, England in 1978 and living in a culture other than our own.
I blame them for placing within my heart and mind a spirit of wanderlust.
In 1995, I spent the summer in Klaipeda, Lithuania, teaching English. In March of 1998 I flew to Ireland by myself, spent three days wandering Dublin and Dalkey and even took a bus to Glendalough. (Thanks Rick Steves). Then traveled to England and Wales and then back to the US. Later that year, we got married. Then after my husband graduated from Seminary, we travelled all through the summer. Florida, California, Vancouver, and Florida again. Then the Lord opened the door for us to minister in Wales. So in October of 2000 my husband and I left the United States and moved to Wales.
We lived in Wales for 2 1/2 years. We had our first two children there. So many memories are bundled up in that place. The cold, damp air, the smell of coal fires burning as we walked the sidewalks in the evening. The Longing I have in my heart cannot be separated from the longing I have to go back to Wales. I do not doubt that the Lord brought us back to United States for a reason, but sometimes I do wonder what would have happened had we stayed.
Wales is a land of sheep and rugby and a strange language filled with what looks like a lot of consonants. It is a land filled with generous people who loved us so well especially because we were Americans (We beat the English in 1776, after all).
This past weekend, Douglas and I have been looking through our thousands of pictures to print out and frame to finally put up on our walls. All the memories came flooding back. The tears started to flow. Then…The Crown. Season 3 Episode 3 (Aberfan) and then again Episode 6 Tywysog Cymru (pronounced Tow-i-sog Kum-ree). The Welsh people, the valleys, the language. Hiraeth…
I miss the rolling hills, the windswept trees and the sing-song English and Welsh they spoke. I miss the hospitality of being invited in for a cuppa. I miss the smell of coal fires. I miss the mist and rain and sun and the rain. It hurts, I miss it so bad. That longing I have has no word in English, but the Welsh word is Hiraeth – (Pronounced Here eye-th). A deep longing in your heart. A longing to be home. A longing to be in a place that once was. According to this website it is:
It seems to be a rather multi-layered word, which includes a different variety of homesickness than what is generally referred to. This kind of homesickness is like a combination of the homesickness, longing, nostalgia, and yearning, for a home that you cannot return to, no longer exists, or maybe never was. It can also include grief or sadness for who or what you have lost, losses which make your “home” not the same as the one you remember.https://sites.psu.edu/kielarpassionblog2/2016/04/02/hiraeth/
Wales isn’t my home, or at least it shouldn’t be. I was born in Canada to Mennonite parents and I am now living in the South with my husband and 3/4 of my kids. Somehow the longing for Wales and the community there brings so many emotions to the forefront. But is the true longing really a longing for Wales? I know that if I moved back there tomorrow, it would not be as it was. And in reality, when we lived there, I was incredibly lonely. But I think life was so much simpler then and I so long to go back to that simple life.
As believers, Hiraeth is not really a longing for Wales. It is for completion. It is for heaven. It is for rest. Our lives are filled and impacted by Adam’s Sin in the Garden. The hurt that we see every day is all around us. We cannot help but long for something better. Hiraeth is a longing for when all the sad and horrible things in this world are past. We will see Him face to face. Maybe that longing and the tears that I think are for Wales are just a displaced longing for Heaven.
If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”-C.S. Lewis
We were made for another world. It is just that simple. This world is not our home. We were made to glorify God this day and someday soon we will glorify him face to face. Our redemption will be complete. All the longings and sighs we have will be no more.
The other day, @EveryMomentHoly on Instagram posted this picture.
“Lead us this day, Lord Christ, that we might walk its paths in the light of the hope of our coming redemption.” Our coming redemption. The dark days, the hard days, the heartbreaks, the cancer. The Hope of Our Redemption. Redemption is coming. Our longings will be fulfilled. No more tears. Christ will rule forever.
Hiraeth will be no more, for we will be home.
Take heart, my friends. We are closer to our coming redemption today than we have ever been. As hard as today is, may the Lord abide in you. We all must wait until we see each other when All will be well. May we walk through today seeing whatever situation comes our way with the eyes of the redemption to come. May this hope of redemption soften the heartache, even a little a bit. May we have Hiraeth not for things of this world and this time, but for the days to come with our Creator.