They’ll all come to meet me, arms a reaching, smiling sweetly. It’s good to touch the Green Green Grass of Home… Then I awake and look around me at the grey walls that surround me and I realize that I was only dreaming. It’s good to touch the Green Green Grass of Home. —Claude “Curly” Putman, Jr.
The last few days my caregiver Marc Dacuycuy has been singing and humming the song Green Green Grass of Home, which was very popular in the ’60s. There’s something very poignant about the words and they made me think about how we yearn for “home” – whatever that word might mean to us.
Often when something new or different occurs, we think: “Wow! I’m so excited about these new insights, new surroundings, new friends.” But not long after, the novelty of the new wears off, and we may find ourselves gazing out the window and thinking of the faces of old friends and family and places. We might even start to feel homesick. “This is okay, but this is not really my home.”
Spring has a way of stimulating us with a sense of newness, a diversion from the timeworn practices of winter. Old habits and customs are replaced with different activities, fresh excitement, new pressures, and, regrettably, the possibility of missing the familiar – a longing ache for the well-known and perhaps even a tad of homesickness.
Homesickness is nothing new. It is mentioned in the book of Exodus in the Bible, and in Homer’s Odyssey. It can happen to just about anyone who is away from their “home.” Only recently have we learned a better sense of what homesickness really is. In the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, homesickness is defined as “distress and functional impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home and attachment objects such as parents.” Those who suffer from the condition may feel sadness, nervousness, anxiety, and most often an obsessive preoccupation with thoughts of “home.”
According to Josh Klapow, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at the University of Alabama, homesickness isn’t necessarily about “home.” Nor is it really an illness. Rather it comes from our natural need for security, love, and protection – feelings usually associated with home. When these qualities aren’t present in a new environment, we begin to long for them. We’re missing what’s normal, what is regular or habitual for us.
If we are longing for the green green grass of home, we can try to surround ourselves with some of our favorite things, so we feel more comfortable. Photos of our family, loved ones, or of places that mean a lot to us can help us feel better. If we want to feel less homesick, we’ll feel restored after hearing some soothing words, even some funny jokes, from the people we love the most. We can also go to a church, a synagogue, a park, or a sacred place to be with the Divine. We might want to establish a routine time for talking with the Divine which will fill our day with hope and give us something to look forward to – especially if we are surrounded by those grey walls. Perhaps then we might discover the green green grass of home.
* What are the grey walls that are surrounding you and making you feel homesick?
* Can you find a way to experience the green green grass of home in your life?
Great Divine One, we thank you for your patient love for us – even when we are like frightened little children who tend to forget how much you love us. Forgive us that we are hungry, homesick, yearning for green grass and home. Help us learn to turn to you as our “home” and that indeed we will find that with you. Amen.