It was mostly a rainy day. We decided to drive along the lake. As I was driving, the wet cloudy view outside the car window was calling for something like a mug of steam hot chocolate… something cozy. A yearning started to appear in my heart, a yearning for home… I told my husband my feeling and he said, “we just left home for 15 mins!” But that home wan’t what I meant by this Home. I told him, it’s more like the eternal home, where there is no pain, sadness or sorrow… In fact, I didn’t know how to name this feeling accurately. Until we arrived at Nyon and stopped there for ice-cream. There by the lake, happened be a gathering under a big tent. About one or two hundred people were there. The banner said in French “the Festival International”. Immigrants from about five ethnic groups were represented there, bringing their homemade traditional food, customs, songs and dances. We stood there and watched some cheerful dances. The ambience was warm and lovely, regardless of the raining outside. Our 21-month-old son was happily clapping with people after a dance finished. At one moment, I realised these people, these immigrants, no matter how long they’d lived in this beautiful country of Switzerland, they could still feel homesick. This gathering was a way of remembering and honouring their roots, their home. Perhaps they also had the same longing as I did, a longing for home. Except where I’m from, my hometown in China or my parents’ home can no longer cure my homesickness. My yearning had reached to a much farther place where holds my eternal roots and identity.
How did I come to the place where I am now? The longing for home isn’t something new for me. I came from a home far from perfect. Though loved by my family members, in my early childhood, my parents often had to work elsewhere and left me with my grandparents. As the only child in my family, I often felt very very lonely. I would often cry out of loneliness and missing my parents badly. After all, a child isn’t designed to be given to the grandparents but for her own parents to raise and love. I felt that though I had a home, a place to eat and sleep, that place wasn’t completed or secure enough. The missing pieces made my heart sick.
However, I soon left my early childhood and grew up fast. I got to live with my parents and my grandparents. Under the pressure of making a living and taking care of the family, the conflicts weren’t a rare thing between my parents. Though they did the best they were able to, the home that I was given was like a house with a leaking roof and broken windows. I often felt perplexed and cold…Slowly, coming home had become like a duty instead of a pleasure. I would rather hang out longer elsewhere.
4 months after I turned 18, my dad passed away. I was left with my mom, the only person I could call at home. Things could have been easier if I had a close relationship with mom, but I didn’t. We two blood-bonded beings who were meant to be the most intimate friends and comrade to face the storm of life together and encourage each other, unfortunately didn’t know how to love. Instead, we quarrelled and hurt each other with words when deeply struggling with the painful loss.
6 months later, I was accepted by a University 2 hours’ bus ride away. I felt finally relieved from the stress of living with my mom by escaping to live in my campus dormitory. After another 6 months, I heard about Christ and became a Christian. I can’t forget the feeling or the inner voice that was speaking to me and broke me into inexplicable tears right after I prayed a prayer to accept God into my life. It said, “Welcome home.”
The next decade of my life was full of movings and travels, saying hellos and goodbyes. I learnt to decorate every dormitory or apparent room I stayed as nice and cozy as possible, so that after a busy day I could alway return to a space which made up a little bit the sense of security I’d already lacking. However, after frequently changing locations, most importantly I learnt that the core of my security and my sense of belonging came from God, the One I trust my life with, who never changes. Ironically yet masterfully, the Creator of my heart had to take away everything that I could have held onto for security and identity, to bring me to the realisation that He alone is where I belong.
Licking the melting coconut ice-cream by a port with my husband and son (our second was kicking inside my belly), watching the raindrops making ripples on the surface of the lake and the mountains afar resting in clouds, my heart was full. After many years away from home, having learnt the truth of where and to whom I belong, God’s given me a new family to create a new home with. Whatever we’ve missed in the past, we all have been given the possible second chance to take it back, and to make it even better to demonstrate the beauty of the Giver and Redeemer. I suppose thus we got a bit of relief from being homesick, as we walk this journey Home.