Frederick Buechner points out that the word “longing” comes from the same root as the word “long,” in the sense of length and time, as in, “it’s a long line,” or “it was a long time ago.” So, the word “longing” has its origin in time and distance. But the word also comes from the same root as “belong,” in the sense of being related to something, as in “the dog belongs to her,” or “he belongs to that family.” And so, as Buechner suggests, “to long for something” is to yearn for a long time for something that’s a long way off and that we cannot live without. To be homesick is to feel both the distance and that absence.
When have you been so far from home, for such a long time, that you felt the ache of homesickness?
– From “A House Divided: Engaging the Issues through the Politics of Compassion” by Mark Feldmeir – Chalice Press