As I have been thinking about yearning the last week, I have come to the realization that this is not about renouncing or pursuing our desires, that which we yearn for in our lives. Rather, it is about understanding our yearnings and the lessons behind it. As I did, I was reminded of a film I saw almost 30 years ago now, called The Trip to Bountiful.

In this film, Mrs. Watts, a sensitive old woman living in the city with her son and his wife, develops a yearning to visit her family home, now long abandoned, in Bountiful, Texas. Her daughter-in-law interprets this wish as sentimental senility, and she convinces her husband to thwart the old lady’s attempts to take a train or bus to visit her long-abandoned homestead. Mrs. Watts expresses the elemental nature of her longing plainly: ‘I haven’t had my hands in dirt in twenty years. My hands feel the need of dirt.

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