Comments 5

  1. Thank you for this wonderful piece on a topic that is not often written about! I agree completely with the importance that place has on our lives and would love to see more people engaging with this idea, so thank you for bringing this to light. I think one reason that our childhood home often has such an impact on us is that when we were children, we were constantly learning to love our “place.” We were exploring every nook and cranny, digging in the dirt, playing outside in every season, and learning what it meant to live “there.” Now, as adults, I think it’s so easy to think that we’ve grown out of this need to love the place where we’re living, especially as the transience of where we live is so much more prevalent. We often want to save ourselves from the hurt we know that will come if we fall in love with a place and then have to leave. Yet, as you said, God gives us this longing for place, these earthy roots for a reason, and that is not, I think, something to be taken lightly. This impacts both how we live in the present and our view on eschatology. Thank you for such a well-written piece on an important topic!

  2. Kate,
    Thank you for these memories so beautifully presented.
    I wonder if what the Welsh call hiraeth and what you seek to capture in you essay is what C. S. Lewis called sehnsucht, our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off, our lifelong nostalgia. In other words, it is more than a place, a house, a time. It is an incompleteness brought about by your–and all of our–fallenness. And so our joys are never quite complete. As the old hymn puts it, “From fullest bliss that earth imparts we turn unfilled. . . .”
    Perhaps that’s what the text from Revelation tells us.

    1. This is precisely the danger — Lewis’s romanticism and nordicism was of a piece of his era, the era of romantic nationalism. We know how it played out, and so did he. It was difficult to love Wagner, Parsifal, and Siegfried as an Englishman (or Ulsterman) in the 20s, 30s, and 40s — Derek Brewer once shared an anecdote about how Lewis and Tolkien would sneak off to see The Ring in London after Sehnsucht for Northernness had become definitive of the Third Reich. Lewis struggled quite openly with his spiritual journey as a path that came through neopaganism, spiritualism, and an erotic flair that colours all his work.

      God does not come to people in the forms of their countries and cultures to deify them. To mistake the sign for the thing itself is the semiosis of idoltry. To long for something that does not exist is to love an idol of our own making, and even hope may tend to be hope for the wrong things, as T. S. Eliot put it.

      Be careful what you long for,

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