In Between

Posted on: November 07, 2017 Written by
In Between
Photography by: MariaDubova from iStock          

The culmination of painful farewells,
of cultural stress, of difficult adjustment
accompanied with too many emotions,
and with too little time to absorb.

This place is not the adjustment,
I am the adjustment.
I want to pull away into my ivory tower,
just for a while.

I want to read, to write,
to meditate, to mourn.
but instead I stare at walls, at trees,
not really seeing.

Every part of me shrinks
from contact with eye, with hand.
I do not want physical proximity.
I do not want emotional intimacy.

I care only about me,
the part I am distant from.
I need to rebuild, rework
my framework inside.

I am stretched by grieving.
My life seems to have lost its shape,
left with feelings of rootlessness,
tangled among my thoughts.
I want to belong
but experience separateness.
I want simplicity
but experience complexity.

I want,
I want because I do not have.
I do not have inner harmony
in my spirit, my mind, my body.

The outside clamors for its needs,
louder than the inside.
The outward must be met
Before the inward can receive.

I want a “home”.
Curtains, tulips, blue delft,
pewter, a trick of a clock,
and music.

The walls of my new home are sallow,
the mattress leaves the shape of its previous owner,
windows etched with someone else’s prints.
My soul identifies with my surroundings.

It is as if color and space
are the corridors of my spirit.
Once furnished, they become the background
for my inner thoughts to have a place to rest.

I have no problem decorating a room
but how does one refurbish one’s heart?
I have this moment to renew,
for I am “in between”.

As I lay on this scratched wooden floor,
listening to music, a deep chord touches within,
I began to mourn for what was.
I weep until emptied.

As the music penetrates my soul,
I slowly let go of the old,
cautiously embrace the new.
Perhaps now I can begin, again.



This article is a classic originally published in our early print magazines. 

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  • Rhonda

    I can see why this is a classic – it so captures in words and imagery what it is like to be a global woman. My past couple years have had me feeling what is described here. Thank you for the reminder that I am not alone and it is worth it to work through feelings/thoughts/experiences.

  • Erika Loftis

    Oh man. Yes. If I could cry, I would’ve been… 😉 We are preparing to say goodbye to some good friends, you know the kind that live next door, and that would be friends even if you weren’t missionaries together. And just like any death, I sometimes cry, but mainly it has just cast a shadow on my whole life. Knowing the end is near. Watching the heart rate monitor of this season go slower and slower, knowing that it will finish with a high pitched beep and then it will be over… and it will taste like ashes in my mouth… And I will cry, but it may never touch the grief. And people will offer platitudes, and laugh and say “Well, they’re not DEAD” but it doesn’t matter. People who brought life to MY life, and joy to our little village will be gone. And I will alone again. That is a death. Even if they aren’t dead. And life will have to go on. And the next thing and the next thing, and I will have to grieve in secret. Anyway… yes yes yes to this poem….

    • Janet Emerson

      Erika, I feel your pain. People are always coming and going from our
      church. It’s tiring and I feel myself not wanting to invest in new
      friendships because I know I will only experience more loss and grief
      when they leave. I do have at least one great friend here in Strasbourg who probably
      won’t be moving, though, and coincidentally, she is also a friend of
      yours!! I love small world stuff. I saw your name on here and thought I
      recognized it. 🙂

  • Laila1L

    Thank you so much for this beautiful collection of words that describes my inner landscape right now. We’re just returned to the US after 20 years of service in the Middle East. I’m finding hope after several years of mourning. Part of that recovery process is possible because people like you find creative ways to share the journey, the pain, the places that are raw and tender.