Yearning does not phone ahead.
No heads-up email, or text. No forwarded ETA. Amid tinsel and candy and LED stars, yearning arrives like a long shiver: down-in-the-bone lonely. An awkward Soul-guest. Seemingly hungry.
But not lost. No.
Across its imaginary palm, scrawled in blue ink, the address is yours, and mine. Deliberate, then, this surprise visit.
What we do next will determine more than our mood.
Has yearning knocked at your door lately? A longing you can’t quite name?
It woke me on my birthday. Interrogation failed: I hazarded guesses as to its source but failed to define my sense of loss and incompleteness (and thus dismiss it).
It’s with me, still. Maybe it wants a hand to hold?
Or a handout?
Or a hand up, to heave itself free from past disappointments—because it aches, this inward sigh.
So what now?
Here’s what I suspect (and I hope you’ll share your insights, in the comments below)
Yearning arrives as the teacher—a timeless gift—when the learner is ready.
Past time, passed forward
What if yearning sent the travel-stained child named Mary to visit Elizabeth?
Trembling, Mary nears her kinswoman’s windowless door feeling mostly awed, slightly bewildered. She’s thirsty and maybe a little bit dreamy, having walked so far. Having carried such secrets.
Elizabeth’s work-worn hands pull her over the threshold. She barely contains the leaping within! She is loud with her blessing.
And puzzled to be her Lord’s host. Why her? Why here?
Sure as the almond tree is the first to bloom and the last to lose its leaves, Elizabeth sees Mary’s faith. She strokes that teenage face lit with hopes and dread and a hundred questions.
There is singing and sighing, and prophesying. There’s probably soup. And honey, drizzled across unleavened bread.
There are weeks of rising and working, then resting together, stroking their bellies as night comes on. John is a kicker, a roller, a swimmer of rivers; Jesus has yet to fidget or turn. He is quiet. Contained.
The two friends gaze at each other, and maybe they think:
Something never-before-this-Real wants to be born, through us.
Mary and Elizabeth differ from us. Their enigmas were already named: John, and Jesus. The long yearned for son and never-dreamed-of boy arrived, as gifts, clearly labeled.
We who have yet to understand our restless Soul-guest can learn from St. Benedict’s Rule: “Let everyone that comes be received as Christ.”
“‘Lord, when did . . . we see you a stranger and invite you in . . . ?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” —Matthew 25:38-40 (NIV)
Like Elizabeth, we extend our hands toward mystery.
And if the riddle is me?
Yearning also invites us to welcome estranged parts of ourselves. What talents, dreams, or personality traits have we shelved, or dismissed?
Exiled, or denied?
Mary, at Elizabeth’s door, might have ached to feel reassured. Scripture tells us she spent three months with Elizabeth.
Yearning is a timeless gift, worth opening slowly.
Like Mary and Elizabeth, we work alongside our yearning, and rest with it quietly at day’s end. We trust it will name itself, in good time.
Maybe yearning concerns something we’ve left undone. Or something yet to declare itself.
Welcome—be it inward only, or outward—begins long before the heart swings wide.
Welcome starts small,
a seed, shaped first in the mind,
which grows into the beckoning gesture,
soothing as soup, yeasty as bread, irresistible as the outstretched hand.
This is what I know, so far, about yearning.
What can you add?
I hope you’ll consider sharing this post with others.