Timesickness. That bone deep longing for a place and a group of people. If you have lived well for any period of time, it is hard to avoid, even as you fight to weigh down the present moments and dwell in this time and this place. Sometimes it's just a fleeting butterfly brush: when I think of meeting Hayden in Chicago, or when I remember walking through the Badenburg at Schloss Nymphenburg near Munich and the way the rain looked as it stained the corroded lions with water streaks and kissed its own reflection in the lake. Sometimes it's an unshakeable, visceral stranglehold like the way it feels to remember too many little details about my time in England from an open window in an attic in Portugal Place to chilly Easter Skype chats at a prayer room in Durham.
We want so desperately to be here and now, but the memories tug and strain to pull us under. And if we do dare to enter time and break old boundaries, then we are only creating more such memories. How do we deal with these warring spaces of time, looking back, forward, and to either side?
I think one of my biggest takeaways from this weekend is that every good thing comes with a sting of pain. Oh, it was good to see Carol Anne and Charles, to process more of what Impact was and how it has shaped where we are going, to remember that there is more to me than there is to me and she's not lost forever. But it also hurt because it meant growing, which is a painful process not unlike working out for the first time after the winter holiday season. I started one conversation with Charles with the rather pessimistic, "Hope sucks," and while that by no means ended the conversation too, I still hold to that. We have to hope and dream or else, as Emma Goldman said rightly, we die. But "hope deferred makes the heart sick:" that's not hope that we've given up or lost, it's hope that we still have, that fires us for the future. As much as they bring us life, our hopes can also leave us living death.
That's why Revelation 21 hurts. Because every beautiful thing is a foreshadowing of consummation, and as much as our longing increases with each encounter with beauty, we have to wait with deferred hope for the day when He says, "Behold, I make all things new." Until that day, our sweetest fruit has the bitter aftertaste of a fall from grace. Our closest friendships require a daily combat against the drag of brokenness. Our dearest hopes both delight and wound us. It is already, but oh, it is not yet, and that makes all the difference.