Longing vs. Call

I took a week-long seminar on the ministry of chaplaincy last week, and Friday's presentation was on military chaplaincy.  I'll be honest with you-- I kinda figured it would be an army chaplain, and that wouldn't matter very much to me.  (Yes, that's an obnoxious way of thinking about it.  Telling it like it is, folks.)  Instead, the chaplain was a Marine.

Not only did it knock the wind out of me, it pretty much sent me flying face-first into the gravel.  

Almost 48 hours later, I'm still getting my bearings back.  Military homesickness isn't geographical.  This seems almost impossible to explain to civilians, to non-brats.  There's a culture that's unique, and that disappears once a brat moves out of the house.  I very intentionally chose not to (ever, ever) date a military man (I married a Quaker, for crying out loud), and I sure as heck knew I wasn't looking for a commission.  I made a choice not to be part of that culture in adulthood.  But that means that my heritage has disappeared into a fog, and I really can't go home again.  Other people find that their hometowns change, but I don't have security clearance to get to my homeculture.  My heart's a little broken this weekend.  There are funny things like posture and style of speech and attitude that are specifically Marine things, and I haven't seen any of them in a very, very long time.   

But this is what I want to pay attention to:  sometimes there are longings and homesicknesses that are not the same as call.  Yearning isn't always a nudge from God.  Sometimes, it's just a memo that something's missing from your life.  There are values (like Semper Gumby--Always Flexible) that I can reincorporate.  There are leadership skills and confidence and honor that I can return to.  I can take this time to pay attention to the very full legacy that I have been given as a Marine brat.  


  1. I wish that you would elaborate on this -- so much great stuff lurking in this post.

  2. Robin, there are words all lumped together in my throat, and I can't get them to come out through my fingers yet. I'm working on it.

  3. My dad was in the Air Force Reserves throughout my whole life, and I find myself occasionally missing that culture in a way that never made sense until I saw this post. I spent a large chunk of my life on bases and around military people, but as an adult, I don't know many military people, and in fact, the academic culture that has produced most of my friends tends to be anti-military, anti-Church, anti-all sorts of things that are/were important to me. Hard to explain how isolated that makes me feel.

    I also like your reminder that yearnings aren't always God sending us a message. Sometimes we're just homesick. I'm often homesick for places and times that don't exist anymore. It's a kind of exile that I don't think has been fully explored. We hear a lot about Cuban exiles, and others that are prevented from return . . . but not as much about homelands that have been obliterated--sometimes by the simple act of becoming a grown up.

  4. try to imagine yourself as an excited electron, the cool thing is that when you quantum leap back to the calm position you will give off some light, well it may be more gradual than a leaping electron

  5. Lucille in CT11:50 AM

    I am just reading this blog post today. You speak of your childhood as a military brat. This makes me think of my early 20's when I was in the convent. Although I never went back (though I thought I would) and I ended up marrying and having a child, there are still (STILL!) days, 25+ years later, when I do feel a yearning, a homesickness....and I can't explain it to anyone. It's not so much regret. It's missing the things, like you said, funny things like posture and figures of speech---for me, it's little rituals and traditions and the manner of speaking, etc.... Thank you for sharing that part about it might be something missing in your life. I think that's exactly what it is. But how to pinpoint it and get it back? This I'm not sure of.

    Thanks for sharing!!! God Bless...

  6. Oh-- thanks, Lucille! I don't know that we can get it back- it's a little like Brigadoon! But knowing other people who were also part of a community helps.

    Thanks for sharing about your experience, too. I can try to imagine what being part of a religious community might be like, and what you might be missing.


"So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was."
-Saint Molly Ivins