Juggling Fire

Hiraeth: seeing the whole picture

“Give me a beginning,” I’d prayed for three days, and there, like a beacon (and on a Sunday morning to boot) it appeared on Crystal Martin’s Facebook page.

Hiraeth(n.) a homesickness for a home to which you  cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past.

I was stalking. Crystal and I aren’t even friends on Facebook. (Though, I was disappointed to discover that.) She had commented on one of my friend Claudia’s posts, and I thought, “Hey, Crystal Martin!” And before I could reel in my will to snoop, I was browsing through her photos and posts and getting all caught up in nostalgia.

College adventures. The Nite Lite. Laughing.

Ryan Hoggard once described Crystal as a “handsome woman.” I took that to mean he thought I was a handsome woman, too, since he had dated us both. That was after the Jason Era and before the Microwave Oven Age, both miraculous times. It was Crystal who said Jason and I would make pretty babies. That’s why I can see her laughing so clearly as I scroll down her wall. She was cute and petite. Still is. I always felt medium-sized compared to her.


God, it hurts sometimes. Would we have made pretty babies? What a blessing to know the ache. And what a joy to realize its preciousness. Some days, I browse through profiles and swim delightfully in an ocean of memories. Other days, it feels too overwhelming to even go there, like putting together a jigsaw puzzle you know has a missing piece. Why bother? Still, on quiet days, when I feel like it, I want to dump it on a table, sort it out and put it back together again. The trick is deciding if I want to focus on the hole from the missing piece – or the beautiful picture that gets built around it.

Nine deaths. Four divorces. One lie. That’s what my jigsaw puzzle box contained. I had no desire to sort out the pieces. I knew there was a hole filled with panic, anxiety and shame. It took moving to Thailand before I could dump my puzzle pieces on the table. It took villages in Cambodia to appreciate the hole. And it took one mighty, mighty God to realize its beauty.

“Life can only be understood backwards; but must be lived forwards.” – Soren Kierkegaard


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