I wish someone had told me

I wish someone had told me….

Before I watched Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont- that I would need Kleenex, that I would cry at the very end, that feelings that were rooted deep would rush to the top like fresh cream on milk.

As we grow older we start to wonder about our own mortality. It has become real. We can be consumed by avoiding the thought that we are the oldest generation alive in our family or by dwelling on that very thing from the moment we wake till the moment we climb into bed at night.

If I avoid all thoughts about aging I’m fooling myself. If I dwell on all aspects of it, those thoughts will crush me. I try to keep my distance from the age issue most days but sometimes, when a movie like this expresses aging in such a touching way, those thoughts escape the shadows and come out into the day where they can be seen by me. And I have a Monty Python moment-

 Run Away! Run Away!

Because I really have had a distinct dislike for what it represents-the loss of one ability or another, the increase of illness, the difficulties in communication between the old and the young. My apologies here for those of you who really love “old folks” and enjoy their company. My own experiences scarred me for life. Now I’m facing the fact that I’m teetering on the cliff of Senior Citizenship, my family might say I’m already sliding down the slope.

So there I sat in the dark. Alone. Watching. I got to the end of this movie that is so touching and endearing and so full of the reality of aloneness as we age and leave this world and the need for someone just to be there with us as we go. And I was fine until…. The second feeling rose to the surface.

It is something that I don’t quite know how to come to terms with. Have you ever been so homesick that you thought your heart would break if you didn’t get there in the next 24 hours? Let me explain:

As a child I never lived in one town more than two years, many schools (14) are in my past. Old friends. No friends. New friends. Rinse and repeat.

But there is this-

This once upon a time moment in my life. I had the opportunity to go to England as a child. I went to a summer camp there and for three days before camp started we saw London. For an 11 year old it made an indelible impression. I never thought I would see it again.

But God is good and He knows what He’s put in my heart. For our 25th anniversary, my husband and I celebrated well. We took a 16-day trip to England. We backpacked and crammed in every possible experience we could. We figured we only had the one chance. We came home and I never thought I would see it again.

I relived every moment of those 16 days over and over. It consumed me. Homesickness had set in. Only I didn’t know that was what it was until almost 2 years later when we got a bargain basement rate and went again. When I got off the plane in London the feeling was something indescribable.

Until that moment I had never understood that it’s the same feeling I get when I think of Heaven and all that’s waiting for me there. Because I know I don’t belong here.

 The last scene in the film is a view from the south side of Westminster Bridge looking back across the Thames at Big Ben. I cried. Like a baby. Because it feels like home and I’m not there. {I don’t even have relatives there.} And no one gets it, this longing that I have. Not even me. But God does.

Disclaimer: I love my husband, my children, my grandchildren and I would never distance myself from them.

Fact: But even they have heard me say: “If someone came up to me and told me there was a flat in London with my name on it I’d be there in a heartbeat.” Not in a flash, not on the next plane, not as soon as I could pack.  In. A. Heartbeat.  In that space between life and death, that pause between the lub and the dub.  Pretty dramatic, eh?

 The patriarchs were familiar with this intense longing: 

 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” Hebrews 11:13-16

  I understand what it means to long for a place and to acknowledge that I am an alien here. I do long for that Heavenly One much more than the earthly one and as I age it’s so much closer. I think God gave me a heart for London so that I would truly understand the longing I have for that Better Country.

London. A distant second. Yes.

But a city prepared for us? 

By God?

 Oh, Yes!

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