Life turned idyllic whenever we traveled up north. There the sand dunes lay golden under the sky...the lake lay placid cupped between hills and cottages...the cherries lay chocolate covered in the dishes at the famous Cherry Republic.
For one week in the year, we felt at home. That place held the church we loved--the community we craved and couldn't find back home. We drank in a sense of rest. We filled up with creativity from Food Network. We boated and hiked and the guys watched baseball games, and then in the evenings my sister and I would creak up the narrow stairs to our room--the room with the three twin beds and the windows facing the lake.
Driving home was the hardest. As the expressway curved back towards the city, a slow sense of oppression settled back over us. We keenly felt the loneliness; keenly felt that we were only at home one week out of the year. Back in the city, there was almost a sense of spiritual oppression.
L.M. Montgomery too, captured the sense of exile in Jane of Lantern Hill. While I never traced those themes, I always loved Jane (even above Anne.) Caught between separated parents, Jane lived in the city where she was friendless, trapped, and called Victoria by everyone around her.
Gay Street, so Jane always thought, did not live up to its name. It was, she felt certain, the most melancholy street in Toronto...though, to be sure, she had not seen a great many of the Toronto streets in her circumscribed comings and goings of eleven years. (Jane of Lantern Hill, pg. 1)
But that summer--oh, that glorious summer when Dad asked her to meet him--she got her cottage by the ocean--the cottage with the garden, the kittens, and lashings of magic. There people called her Jane--there she was able to cook and learn how to run barefoot on a stubble field (I've always wanted to do that a la Jane). She learned what home was. Until the fall, when she had to come back to Toronto and 60 Gay, leaving her heart behind in Prince Edward Island.
Year after year, she lived an exile through the school year and thrived in the summertime.
Those last few days were compounded of happiness and misery for Jane. She did so many things she loved to do and would not do again until next summer...and next summer seemed a hundred years away. (Jane of Lantern Hill, pg. 140)
For almost ten years we were Jane. Everything we wanted was up north. But gradually, things shifted. As we graduated high school and met more people, the sense of exile lessened. We invited people into our home. We met people online and formed Bible studies. My brother and I joined BSF. We got jobs, put down roots. Now, when I drive through the city on Monday nights, the chorus of Andrew Peterson's "Everybody's Got a Song" beats through my heart like a refrain. Oh, I love this city. A couple years ago when the prospect of moving popped up, we knew that here--here where we once felt oppressed and lonely--we now had a vibrant sense of life and people we did not want to leave behind.
It's been five years now since we last saw those windows. I still deeply want to go back north at least once more before we all grow up. There are still corners of loneliness to be combatted. We still haven't found a church that feels like home. In other words, heaven hasn't come down. But it's a place I love.
Interestingly enough, Jane, too, found home in Toronto. Once her heart found rest and people popped up to share her life with, it was no longer the place itself that seemed so terribly lonely. Toronto, too, had its house with lashings of magic.
Jane thought of the little stone house in Lakeside Gardens. It had not been sold yet. They would buy it. It would live...they would give it life. Its cold windows would shine with welcoming lights....There would be no more misunderstanding. She, Jane, understood them both and could interpret them to each other. And have an eye on the housekeeping as well. It all fitted in as if it had been planned ages ago. (Jane of Lantern Hill, pg. 217)Home is in our hearts and with the people and the God that we love.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.--Matthew 6:21
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.--Colossians 3:1