It’s 8/15 on the lunar calendar today (in China) and tomorrow (in Canada). 中秋节. There’s none of that festive atmosphere here, of course, but we do have homemade moon cakes… and seeing the moon on its (arguably) brightest night does make me somewhat nostalgic. About what, you ask? There’s no particular person or thing that I substantially miss in China; what’s there is the pull — however intangible — toward one’s homeland. Now, I’d never describe myself as an “exile”, and Canada’s too much my home to be “alien soil”, but I was reminded of this stanza of a particularly precious hymn:
What exile cannot but desire his homeland
And long his people once again to greet?
What soul on alien soil forgets his kindred?
What parted lovers never yearn to meet?
O Lord, how can these earthly loves and pleasures
With all the joy of Thy return compare?
Then, if I cannot here behold Thy countenance,
What can I do but sigh till Thou, my Lord, appear?
When I first chanced upon this hymn (while sitting at the piano some time ago), I was a little taken aback that even Christians filled with the holy Spirit experience a certain sense of void. Now, after the retreat last weekend (see upcoming post), I think I understand just a tiny little bit what the writer of this hymn meant. I can’t describe the sentiment to you; I can only tell you that I want my Lord Jesus to come back.
Lord, how long? My Beloved, when will You return?