No deep thoughts really, just small updates--peeks into life for the past several weeks:
There have been trips where I have put more miles on my car and perhaps gone further geographically, but I when I think about the past few weeks, I think about context. I tried to explain it to a friend somewhere along the way, how this trip to Texas was about context for me, putting people and things in their places in my mind. Seeing people in their own context and superimposing that on my previous thoughts about their homes and ways of life. Granted, I consider every person I visited to be among my closest friends in the world, so it wasn't so much about knowing them more, just about knowing them in their present skin more. If that doesn't make sense to you, that's okay. It does to me. It was helpful to me. It helps me love them each more and it helps me contextualize this next season of my own life. I am who I am regardless of geography, but culture and place does change us and challenge us and I'm up for it. Excited about it.
When I began this trip on August 30, I began it with a full car and a few plants that are a part of my story. Stanley, a growing vine started from a small shoot when I was in college. He's huge now. Graham came from a small shoot as well, also when I was in college. Po is one of the newer additions, a jade tree gifted by a family I love more than I can even say. Fiona is just a pretty purple plant I picked up somewhere. While in Pennsylvania, two of my favorite people planted me a little desert and it quickly rose to the top of my favorite things in the world. Along the way, they've all met their demises in one way or another. Not completely, I'm arguing to myself, but they're sad looking for sure. Traveling in and out of a car and houses and airconditioning and back into hot cars and such--well, that's no way to treat houseplants. My mission for the next few months is to nurse them back to health. I love plants. I love the breath and life they bring to my surroundings and I'm not going to give up on them so easily.
Being here is sort of a blur at this point. I'm tired, physically, sleeping in different beds for several weeks takes its toll and in some senses I'm ready for routine. But that's not to say that I'm ready to buy, accumulate, and grow sloppy in my desire to keep things simple and flexible. I'm just ready to have a plan and stick to it every day. My soon-to-be roommate and I handed in an application for a house today that I'm hoping we get. It's perfect for us for a lot of reasons, beyond my expectations in some senses (price, location, space, etc), so I'm really praying we get it. I'm ready to start building community here and what better way to do it than to practice hospitality!
Tonight I talked with some friends from back home (I don't mention people by name very much here, but I will here: If you're from the Potsdam/Canton area and you don't know the Criscitello family, I recommend that you look them up immediately. If you do know them and you aren't learning from them, leaning on them, growing with them, loving them and being loved by them, I recommend you get your person over to their house ASAP. I don't know many people who show what it means to love Jesus as much as they do. I'm serious. Lisa will be mad that I wrote that, but she doesn't read my blog anyway. She's too busy loving her kids.). Lisa was recounting a conversation her kids had at their house about missing me (I miss you guys too!) and one of them said something about me just being away visiting (there's a point to this story, I promise) and I guess I just wanted to talk about that for a minute.
Here's why: I am visiting. Yeah, I'm getting an apartment. Yeah, I'm plugging into a great church here. Yeah, I'm going to build community here as much as I can in the short time that I'm here. But I'm trying to cultivate a heart that isn't home anywhere and is yet home everywhere and to do that, sometimes you've just got to be visiting. Don't get me wrong, there are always homes in our hearts, places where we are known deeply and where we know deeply, but I think I am learning more than ever before that being known and knowing others is a lifestyle and that we can carry with us anywhere. It's a challenge, for sure. I say to a friend this afternoon: people are scared to be known and this keeps them behind their picket fences, in their airconditioned homes, with their routines. It's safe there. Visiting isn't safe. Visiting means that there are more opportunities to stumble and fall badly, to misstep, to not know the norms, to speak out of turn, to say the wrong thing--but visiting is the only way we can remember that we are not home and not home soon either.
I don't know that in me, not deeply yet (as evidenced above in my longing for routine!), but I want to know it. I want to root out all vestiges of things that point me away from Jesus and His glory. Even if it means being a visitor forever.