Folding a leg up on the opposite knee, Saul’s flip flop bounced as he searched. “Okay, here’s another one. Aquiver. Sounds like something JELL-O does.”
Riley squinted, trying to mentally shift from transmissions to JELL-O.
“It says you get extra points if you can use it in a sentence. How about…the ladies go all aquiver when Saul walks by”?
Riley smirked. “Good one.”
Chin to chest, Saul searched for another. “All right. Your turn, mijo.” He capped his pen. “Ineffable.”
“What kind of word search is this?” Riley spared a glance.
“Just use it in a sentence. It means ‘too great to be expressed in words.’”
“Easy.” One hand still on the wheel, Riley plucked at the collar of his t-shirt. “My good looks are ineffable.”
“Dang. I wish I got that word.”
“Okay, we gotta give one to your dad.” Saul crossed the word out, then took a second before circling another. “All right. Big Kane!”
“I’m not doing it.” Plastic crackled as Jake tore into a bag of chips.
Saul motioned to him with his pen. “You have to. We did it.”
“That’s the stupidest game ever.”
“No, it’s not. It’s fun. Play. I’ll give you a dollar.”
“Yeah, which is like an iced tea at the next gas station. Okay. Your word is…hiraeth.”
Saul repeated the word, then searched for the definition. He squinted at the fine print beneath the puzzle. “It means a homesickness for a home you can’t return to…or that never was.”
Riley wet his lips. Saul fell quiet. That picture from Yosemite flashed through Riley’s mind. And a million other moments that never were.
Maybe this was a bad idea.
The van just hummed down the highway.
But Jake sighed, leaned forward, and wagged a finger in thought as if unfazed. “All right. I’ll play.” He smoothed a hand over his mouth, then snapped his fingers. “Being inside this van makes me…what’s the word?”
Saul repeated it.
“Being inside this van makes me heer-ay-eth for a convertible.”
Riley snorted, worry falling away.
“Pronunciation fail!” Saul bellowed. “But good effort on the sentence. What do you think?” He glanced at Riley. “I’d say like a 4.0 maybe 4.5.”
“You think that high?”
“Dude, you guys are ruthless!” Jake tapped his shoe against Saul’s seat and crunched a chip.
“Should we give him his dollar?” Riley asked, knowing that his dad had been smart to bring Saul along. Because the man with the big smile and loud laugh had a way of softening this day…this trip. One more thing to be thankful for. Maybe his dad knew what he was doing after all. At least a little bit.
“Yeah, we’ll give him his dollar.” Riley glanced in the rearview mirror to see that his dad was peering out the window and smiling.
When he glanced Riley’s way though, the smile faded some and Riley wondered if they both had an alternate definition for that word of his.
Hiraeth. It’s a bittersweet word, isn’t it? It doesn’t seem much like the kind of word we’d want to celebrate or draw attention to, but today, I’d love to do just that. Because our greatest desires may very well live in this word. This word took root in my heart through the writing of To Get to You and if you’ll stick with me, there’s an illustration I want to draw for you…a sweetness that can bring peace to these seven letters. I hope that in the end, you find it worth the next minute or two.
* * *
In this shortish novel, we meet an eighteen-year-old guy whose father is not only a professional surfer, but who also chose to leave when his son was just a little kid.
Which suddenly made this book an exploration of one main question: As a kid and then a teen, how would that change you? Most importantly… how do you heal?
While the teen (Riley) and his dad (Jake) are going to spend some time on a road trip together, giving them the chance to meet one another all over again, I had to resist the urge to write them a perfect ending. It was tempting. But for all the kids who’ve lived this very heartache—I couldn’t.
There are too many readers that I know—and in particular, too many teens—who may not have a perfect ending when it comes to a parent who may not be showing them love. But what is perfect, is God’s promise that He’ll never leave us or forsake us. That although our hearts may be filled with the word painted above, God says that He is for us. And that He loves us with a love greater than anything else. Is it important that we protect and pursue our earthly relationships? Absolutely. Does God ache for us to have reconciliation? Most definitely. But for kids like Riley who may never be given the chance, there can also be a peace that passes all understanding. For Riley that peace is a journey to discover.
That in the hiraeth, God is allowing us to ache for something that He designed for us. Something that is meant to be so sweet and good. And while we wait?
God is there to grow us through lessons. He is there to comfort us in His beautiful promises. He is there to strengthen and equip us to reflect His love for the day when reconciliation can rise like a sun on the horizon. May our hearts be prepared and may we look upon that homesickness with hope. If hiraeth is the soil of our hearts, may beauty, instead of bitterness, grow forth from it. May we continue to trust in the good God has planned for our lives and believe that no matter what happens, He is there to lead us each and every step.
Now you may be wondering — what about the kid and his dad? What’s going to happen to them? Of course, as an author, I’d love for you to find the answer in the pages of the book. 😉 But know that part II of this post–and the answer–is coming next week with bent nails and feather soft pages of mercy. An illustration that takes us to the foot of the cross and into the pages of His word.
Until then… love and hugs!