It comes without warning, this sense of longing. Autumn always brings it on for me, when the colors arrive and the humidity — blessedly — departs. While making the switch from flip-flops to boots, from iced tea to hot, from flakes to oatmeal, that’s when the feeling descends.

It trembles in my gut, like the faint rhythm of a far-away freight train. In fact, the click-clack on the rails can summon the feeling, as can the call of migrating geese.

It Was Time To Go And They All Left Limited Edition Print

It was Time to Go, And They All Left


Heron Dance


The bittersweet pull is made more so by the fact that I don’t know what it is. I once asked a poet friend, John Morris (, if he knew the feeling. I wanted a word, a label. After I’d rambled on about trains and geese for a while, he suggested “melancholy.” That’s a start. But it’s more. It’s deeper.

Do you know what I’m talking about?

This longing brings to mind the stomach churning homesickness I experienced as a kid on the first day of school and whenever I tried to spend the night at a friend’s house. But that was unpleasant, so much so that I sometimes ended up in the nurse’s office and always had to abort the sleep-overs. So no, it isn’t exactly that. It’s not unpleasant, it’s just . . . sad. Still, I rather like the feeling; it contains a kernel of the intensity of the teenage years.


I was twelve when I had my first kiss, not counting a tentative spin-the-bottle kiss in fifth grade with the preacher’s kid Johnny, who later turned out to be gay. This one was a real kiss from dreamy Steve in the church basement, while the sock-hop plodded on upstairs. Steve was my best friend’s foster brother, who lived two doors down from my family, and we had been slow dancing — always trouble.

I was smitten. Every night, I would open the bedroom window closest to my beloved’s house and put on my 45 RPM record of the The Crystal Ship by The Doors.  I would sing from the very core of my being:

Before you slip into unconsciousness, I’d like to have another kiss

Another flashing chance at bliss,

Another kiss, another kiss.

It was fall, and the air smelled like rolling around in a leaf pile. It seemed the moon was always full, and the night was always lit a pale blue.  Now do you know? 

Spiritually Homesick

 The freight train/migrating geese longing is a different kind of homesickness, a spiritual homesick. A good kind. Not the lonely, fearful kind in the nurse’s office or the desperate, grasping waves that wash in with the words, “I’m seeing someone else.” It’s deeper, more real, more elemental than those surface upsets. It isn’t something thrust upon us by emotional needs and hurts. This feeling is built into us; it’s a birth-right of being human.

We have a longing to be home, to belong, to be loved in a never-ending embrace. I believe it’s our Creator Spirit, reminding us that there’s more than this.We are never fully at home, here, there’s always the longing. We are not quite whole yet.

I imagine this divine longing is what my Mom was feeling in hospice when she said, “Daddy? Daddy? Can I come home now?” And God said, “Yes.”

“Thou hast made us for Thyself, O God,and the heart of man is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.”

Saint Augustine (354-430)

Do you know the feeling? What words do you have for it? Theories of where it comes from and why? I wish you all the blessings of autumn, and most especially the Elemental Longing.

The Crystal Ship, by The Doors:

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