By Sarah Spradlin
Stories from all over the world hold that wayfarers,
often got tattoos of swallows.
It was, after all, the swooping swallows
against the blue sky
they would see well before they could see familiar shores.
Swallows meant they were home.
When I got my first tattoo, I already had a foot in Costa Rica and Georgia.
I was coming to terms with the hard truth that
having made a home in two countries meant
I’d never “come home” without leaving another.
My spirit ached for heaven for the first time.
My weary feet hoped for a porch swing
where I could sit with my mom
and my host mom.
My hungry heart dreamed of a table
long enough to fit familiar plastic lawn chairs from Costa Rica
and the wooden chairs from my childhood.
I understood Jesus better
as I read the Gospels again.
I could hear the pain in His goodbyes,
dreaming about the house He would build to hold us all.
Now, when I see the swallows in blue skies
or in the blue-black ink that is now a part of me,
I am reminded not of one but three homes,
three families that I leave behind.
I am reminded of the friends who,
have scattered to sow seeds
in more places and countries than I can count.
I feel the now familiar ache for heaven.
I feel homesickness for a place I’ve never been.
I long for the day I will see them all,
like sparrows on the shoreline
welcoming me home.
It is the longing that fills me with hope.
I’ve come to see the ache as a gift,
the longing like remembering a sweet promise
whispered over and over again;
the hunger as a habit to invite more in,
to make my own table longer,
to make chairs out of benches and stools and buckets.
When I am tempted to worry over them,
Jesus reminds me:
“No sparrow can fall without the Father knowing.
Trust me with those who are worth so much more than sparrows.
Trust me with your swallows.
Trust me with your family.
Just as I sent them out,
I will call them back to me again.
Just as I have scattered them into the wind,
I will gather them again.”
Sarah grew up in Georgia with her mom, dad, and little sister, Merry. She attended the University of Georgia, where she majored in International Affairs and Agriscience Environmental Systems. After graduating in 2019, Sarah took a job working alongside small-holder farmers in Chinandega, Nicaragua as a missionary with Amigos for Christ. She loves telling the story of the global farmer and nerding out about how nature works. Sarah has been homeschooled, private schooled, and public schooled, graduating from the Madison County High School in 2015. She lived in Costa Rica for seven months, and even hung out in Panama for a few days. She’ll read pretty much anything and has tried her hand at almost every kind of writing, though she likes poetry best. (Although fiction books are making a surprise, now-that-I’ve-graduated-from-college-I-have-time-to-read-again comeback.) But because writing bios is a struggle, if you really want to get to know Sarah, shove some words in her general direction on her Instagram, email her at email@example.com, or visit her blog.