Sunday, November 21, 2021

Generosity Through Abundance

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Uprooted: Recovering the Legacy of the Places We've Left Behind by Grace Olmstead

On Homesickness

"There are two different sorts of homesickness. The first is a gentle ache for material things, which I felt soon after I moved to Virginia for college. It's an ache for things that were pleasant and heartwarming as a child—like the smell of pine or the taste of Grandma's pie. These are the things we often associate with nostalgia: the small, material absences or presences that we form rituals around and enjoy, that remind us of the best parts of our childhood. I do not want to negate their importance or sweetness by calling them sentimental, but that is what they are. (And that is not necessarily a bad thing.)

But there's a second form of homesickness that can bubble up in your soul sometimes—often as a reaction to those material items, but going deeper and hurting more. It's an ache for presences past, for the souls that animated and embodied our most beloved memories of home. The ache is often filled with grief and gratitude because our entire idea of home is bound up in their presence, in the way they lived and loved so well. Rather than a gentle ache, it can feel like a raw, burning hurt. In those moments, we feel the absence of the presences that made us who we are, and we long to see them resurrected in our lives. This is why we walk in their footsteps, bake their bread, and tell their stories: to keep them alive, to feel their presences again, to conjure up the comfort they created—even if only for a moment.

"Nostalgia" is derived from the Greek word nostos, for "homecoming," and algos, for "pain, ache." I know I'm not alone in experiencing this ache. Many of my friends have also experienced this homesickness and wrestled with it. Perhaps readers of this book have wrestled with it as well. Many of us share those sense memories of our hometowns, of our grandparents, of the people and places who gave us life. Recalling a particular tree, an autumn scent, or the eccentric habit of a deceased loved one can result in a pang of longing.

We choose what to do with this ache. We can ignore it, dismiss it as sentimentality, and push forward with our lives. Or we can pause and consider. What is the pain telling us about what we're missing? What does it tell us about how we might form the future?"

From Uprooted: Recovering the Legacy of the Places We've Left Behind by Grace Olmstead

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