Few times in life are worse than coming home from vacation. Sunday night Sarabeth and I walked into an empty loft with two less dogs and two less people than we had started our vacation out with.
Sarabeth’s sister and brother-in-law, who are our best friends, were away on an overseas mission trip for the last two years. In that time we’ve been housing their two dachshunds Roxy and Sydney. (We also had our own little Pixie, and added Prim a couple weeks ago, so for almost 24 months our house has been a dachshund plantation – or, as our neighbors called them: the dachshund brigade.)
Well, Evan and Ruthanne came home three weeks ago, and had stayed two weeks with us. Then we all packed the car with bags, music, people, and dogs, and made the 16-hour drive to Fort Lauderdale, Florida where Evan and Ruthanne will be staying until their next mission trip. (They’ll be taking Rox and Syd with them this time.)
The last week has been filled with good food, pool games, family time, walks on the beach, and awesome in-laws (imagine that!).
Needless to say, parting was a very difficult endeavor. The car was much quieter on the way back to Kentucky. We could stretch our legs out, but Roxy or Sydney weren’t there to lay on them. When “Take Me Home Country Roads” played on the CD player, I could just barely sing the words – Sarabeth was in no mood to sing, herself. We both knew it just wasn’t the same song without Ruthanne and Evan.
There’s something about returning home from vacation that’s …unsettling. And that’s not even the right word. After the momentary relief of seeing the house still standing and untouched, a sort of quiet depression sets in.
Those ruby slippers must have been causing a blood clot, or a lack of circulation to the brain, because Dorothy sure was wrong. There are plenty of other places than home.
Amid the quiet depression, things return to normal. You know you have to wake up the next morning not to stroll on the beach, but to drive to work. The house may be clean when you walk in, but it’s all cluttered up as soon as the suitcases pile up and toiletries are scattered on the bathroom counter. The house may be offering warmth and rest after a long drive or an exhausting flight, but we know that there’s a cost for that warmth. Someone’s got to pay the bills for the lights to stay on. Someone’s got to run to the grocery store to restock the fridge.
The mundane replaces adventure. The television replaces spontaneity. Old habits kick back in. Daily struggles re-situate themselves. And life’s gears resume their monotonous click-click-clicking to the predictable beat of everyday chores and routines.
For Sarabeth and me, the house was a lot emptier than when we had left it. And the quiet homecoming was tough to accept.
But an analogy can be found most anywhere, right?
Someday, Heaven will call those of us who are believers in the risen Jesus Christ, home. With our trophies still encased, our money still in the bank, with tasks unmarked, and our suitcases unpacked, the crystal sea will call to us louder than Florida’s ocean surf.
Never to return to the dust of the earth, never again forced to press our noses to the grindstone just to pay next month’s rent.
And we’ll be Home, on vacation. Forever.
Someday I know we’ll all be There in the twinkling of an eye
In the moment of a falling star, I know someday we’ll all be There…