I drive to a friend’s house and almost get lost. The street name I had been looking for is not there. I don’t come this way regularly enough that I know the landmarks well. The intersection looks like the right one, though. But the street name is different, completely different, as if I have ventured into the wrong area. I make the turn in spite of my bewilderment. The road turns out to be the right one, after all, in spite of the alien name.
I find my friend’s house. But a sense of displacement remains, a vague feeling of unease I suppress.
I suppress it well enough to forget about the incident, take another trip to family further out. And on my way back, driving along streets I grew up in, it happens again.
The sense of waking up in an alien place and not having a clue where you are or how you got there. Jamais vu. Knowing you’ve been here before countless times, but not recognizing any of it.
Dizzy with displacement, clutching the steering wheel with white knuckles, I drive down the unfamiliar familiar street, turn into another unfamiliar familiar street … and another … and another. I pass streets with more alien names, referring to people I have never heard of. By the time I reach the highway, the sense of displacement is complete. The sense of utter lostness.
I have become an alien in my birthplace. Unable to understand the strange new names, unable to digest their significance, except for this: I don’t belong here.
My insides shake. I have become stripped, laid bare, denuded of the familiar boundaries I used to function in. I stand in the vortex, emptiness swirling around me, screaming past me as it draws tighter and tighter, set on consuming me.
I hold on to myself, feeling how even my name tries to tear loose from me in this fell storm. I am a stranger, and I am naked. It does not matter. When you are already invisible, does it matter if you’re stripped bare?
I hold on to His name that can never change. Yeshua HaMashiach Immanuel.
Naked alien bowing down in all this emptiness, reaching desperate fingers for His presence.