“Some things will never change. Some things will always be the same. Lean down your ear upon the earth and listen.”
—Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again (1940)
They don’t call it heat lightning here. They don’t call them Hurricane lilies, either. And the early summer frog songs feature some familiar voices, but the one that sounds like a grumpy little dog barking is missing. The Ozarks are just as stunning as everyone said they were, but they’re not the wild swamplands of Florida that we left behind.
Stubbornly, I point out these discrepancies to my children, willing them to remember the vocabulary of our shared homeland. But when we left, they were of such an age that they hadn’t yet built up such loyalties, and after a while they look at me with benign tolerance when I describe to them the smell of orange blossoms that floated through the open window as I sang them to sleep, or the way they’d gorge on juicy u-pick persimmons until their small stomachs bulged so much I had to adjust their carseat buckles on the ride home. They don’t share my memories. They hear them like words from a story that trails off nebulously. “Then what happened?” “Well, then we moved…”
People move places for jobs, relations, opportunities, escape. We also move from partnered to single, or we move from an empty nest to raising grandchildren, or from able-bodied to disabled. The shorthand of our life-before becomes cumbersome, unable to connect us to the people around us, hindering our ability to put down new roots.
And yet, we carry a constancy: the still, quiet voice within that knows the difference between the window dressing and the big, wide, beautiful world beyond the window. We feed this wise little voice with prayer: breath, song, service, bare feet walking circles on the ground, slow-cooked soup, gentle gazes held when words fail.
Great Spirit, help us to remember we are already at home anywhere we may be on the interconnected web of all existence, that we are never untethered from the Oneness that abides all space and time.