..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Xenoiakian Syndrome: Homesickness for Heaven

I think I was born again with *Xenoiakian
Syndrome, but it sure does seem to have
gotten worse lately. If you travel alot, it is
quite common to wake up in a strange house
and wonder where you are. A kind of "If its
Tuesday, it must be Belgium" whirlwind of
road warrior displacement.

As Dorothy says, "There's no place like
home." No place like the comfort that
comes from living in the domicile you are
meant to inhabit in safe, cozy bliss.
No place like Kansas, sort of.

What seems to be happening with
me is that while I am away from
home I seem to have those "where
am I moments?" but when I come
home it seems to develop into
a full blown case of Xenoiakian

And what is that you may ask?

It comes from the Greek word
Xenos meaning stranger or foreign,
and the greek workd oiakia, meaning
house. "Strange house" syndrome,
to be sure. In a capsule, one feels
not quite at ease in one's own home,
as if to be found in a strange house.

It happens the most when returning
home to my own house. A feeling
of not really feeling like I'm really
home. Homesick when home.
A feeling of distance in familiar

C.S. Lewis describes it thus in
The Weight of Glory:

"Our lifelong nostalgia, our longing to
be reunited with something in the universe
from which we now feel cut off, to be on
the inside of some door which we have
always seen from the outside, is no mere
neurotic fancy, but the truest index of
our real situation. And to be at last
summoned inside would be both glory and
honor beyond all our merits and also the
healing of that old ache.

Now grant you, my house is
perfectly cozy and this is
not Alzheimer's setting in. I know
where the silverware
is, and the towels, and I know
for absolute darn well sure where I
stash the chocolate. Yet even the
chocolate seems like cardboard
when I think of my true Home.

It's just that when I come home
and expect to sigh a "there's no place like
home" sigh, full of warm fuzzies, I feel,
instead, like I am strangely not at home.

I find it interesting, and absolutely,
positively, heartbreakingly comforting,
to know that Jesus spent some
of the last moments of His prime time
with His disciples talking about
Xenoiakian Syndrome.

"In My Father's house are many
mansions: if it were not so, I would
have told you. I go to prepare a place
for you. And where I go you know,
and the way you know" (John 14:
2 & 3).

I feel so comforted by the fact that
Jesus said, "I will not leave you
as orphans, as comfortless" (John
14:18). He, knowing what it
was like to be human, and yet
divinely far from Home, is making
all the preparations for us.
He anticipated all that we would
feel and all that we would need.

Just as a good host prepares
each detail for the coming guests.
Jesus said, "Oh, and I know how
you are going to feel. I had a
monumental case of Xenoiakian
Syndrome Myself. I am not
abandoning you, I am not leaving
you without comfort. Your home
is in My Father's house and you
will find all bed's less than perfect
until you arrive in the Home for
which you were made. But do not
doubt that such a perfect place
of rest exists.

Note that Jesus said, "If this was
not true, I would not have told
you." How interesting that Jesus
picks this point to reassure the
disciples that He is not lying or
exaggerating or speaking in
some metaphor that has no
basis in the grand Reality of

He did not spend time reassuring
us that certain creeds were indeed
correct in their minutiae or
going over the fine points of
how to best share the gospel.

He tenderly goes straight to
the deepest need of the human
heart: to find its home in God,
and to reassure you and I that
there is indeed a Place
called Home in His Kingdom.

You don't know how relieved
I feel. Well, maybe you do,
if you have Xenoiakian Syndrome
also. In T. S. Eliot's famous
poem, Return of the Magi,
the magi ponder this after they
have seen Jesus:

"We returned to our places, these
Kingdoms, But no longer at ease
here, in the old dispensation."

I tell you the truth, Xenoiakian
Syndrome is contracted from seeing
Jesus. For after You do see Him,
you will not be at ease in your
own home, however cozy;
in your own town, however quaint;
in your own church, however lovely;
in your own kingdom, however
impressive. Not really. Not completely.

Actually not at all.

Xenioakian Syndrome ruins all that.

The exiles of Israel, taken out of
their home to Babylon, had an
early but severe strain of XS.

"By the rivers of Babylon, we
sat down, yea, we wept, for
Zion. We hung our harps
on the willows there, for
those who carried us away
captive, required of us, a
a song, They that wasted us
required of us laughter,
saying "Sing of one of the
Songs of Zion."

How shall we sing the Lord's
songs, in a foreign land?
(Psalm 137: 1-4).


Further symptoms of Xenoiakian
Syndrome follow along in this
passage: inability to function
in one's giftings unless one is
mindful of Zion. This especially
affects the right hand. (Psalm
137: 4).

Also, a drought of soul that causes
the tongue to cleave to the
roof of one's mouth unless
one thinks of Jerusalem (Ps.

In all a cases an extreme
case of homesickness develops
for a Home one has not yet
been to, making worldly
attachments difficult if
not impossible.

There is a known cure, but
one has to die to receive
it, making successful treatment,
while still on earth, impossible.

Yet one can find great comfort
in Jesus, the One who is the
Consolation of Israel (Luke
2:25). He is both the cause
and the cure of Xenoiakian
Syndrome. All we can do is
trust in Him and His Word
while He is busy with the
carpentry of what will cure

Many have found support
groups for XS. Consult
your local church for
meetings in your area.
You will recognize others
who have it by that
faraway glint in their eyes,
by the holy manner of life
that they lead, and by
their inability to be
satisfied with anything
less than a full and
unimpeded vision of Christ
and a relentless homesickness
for a Home not yet seen
with human eyes.

I said earlier that Xenioakian
Syndrome is caused by seeing
Jesus. It is also cured by seeing Him.
Several hours in His Presence
will bring both relief from and
a predicted reoccurence of XS.

Do you have Xenoiakian Syndrome?

See your Doctor if you
experience any of the
aforementioned symptoms.
Temporary help is available
Eternal help is on its way.

*pronounced "zeenokian"


Anonymous said...

so there is a name for it! What an interesting post. Thanks!

Friend said...

Thank you for posting your thoughts. I stumbled upon your site by accident while doing some research, but find it such a delight that I go here often.

I have a mild case of Xenoiakian Syndrome, but long for a full-blown, epidemic-causing case!

Princess Kacey said...

Thank you. You've hit the nail on the head with this one. We are aliens and strangers here in a world that is not our own. May we never get too comfortable, amen?