During my vacation back in June, I read a book called Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley. It's about spiritual disciplines based on liturgical practices. And it met such a precise need in my life at that moment that I copied quite a bit of it into a journal that is almost always with me. From time to time I pull it out and follow the instructions the book set out for a particular discipline.
I just opened it and opened to my notes on the introduction: "Longing"
And thought to myself that I'm having a trouble longing at the moment. Usually I very much relate, perhaps too much so, to longing. But not here, not now. At the moment I'm seated in a shop near Georgetown in D.C. Everything around me is so geared to satisfaction - the opposite of longing. Good food, conveniently located cafes, shops, predictable traffic. At the moment we even have good weather.
I don't know that I am really satisfied, but there's too much effort going into my satisfaction that I'm left with little effort available to long.
Longing in the book is for a number of things... Life, healing, change. It asks, "Isn't there something better I should be doing with my time?" And then acknowledging authentic desires to touch the reality of God at heart and of how much God himself longs to do things for us.
That's good stuff, more satisfying than life, even.
Ironic, then, that I've known this longing intimately when in places like a walled compound in Darfur, a desert monastery in Syria or a rice field in Indonesia... But find it so elusive when at home in more 'familiar' surroundings.