Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Journey of Life

A friend challenged me today to think about what kind of person I am in terms of settling, and what that may look like/mean for my life. Specifically, the questions she posed (perhaps about herself, but asking us to consider and journey with her) were specific...and after sharing thoughts on what journeys have been, it came down to these questions, which she posed to us in her own blog:
Do I want to be the 100 mile type who is going to chose a community and settle in? Do I wish to invest in building a community over 40 or 50 years?
Or Do I wish to continue my vocational wanderings, offering to the local communities powerful and intense gifts, but spreading seeds rather than tending the soil over a countless cycle of seasons? Do I wish to continue sharing the beauty of something people had not previously imagined before I came into their limited perspectives?
Are you a 100 mile type? or a Nomad? How do you reconcile any tension you feel about your decision? How do you feel about your friends who are the other-type (than you are)? Is there a third way of being which I have not considered?
Great questions to ask, and many good solutions to give. I know the pain and struggles that come with moving in and out of communities. The community I work in now at Holy Covenant knows the pain of nomads all too well also, as we wished well 2 persons even today as they moved on to new communities. A lot of people would call it a generational gap, but many of my colleagues would disagree; I know many who may have moved away for school for now, but would think of nothing but moving back "home" when it is all done. It seems thats how most of my small town I grew up in is. That's how my family is- and that's part of why they don't understand why I had to "just go."

Just as I have shared her questions and ask you to think of where your life has led you and how/why you are journeying on the path you are, I also want to share my response. The words and reasons I would choose to describe why I am a nomad would perhaps change from season to season, but regardless of words I use, one truth remains:

I am definitely a Nomad. Sure, as a nomad I also do my best to live into the "third way" of making community and living fully into the community in which I currently reside. But even as I do so here, I know Chicago is not home. Sure, its the place I currently live and the place I call "home" at the end of long days/journeys, but I'm not in this for the long haul. But that doesn't mean I am not doing my best to fully live into the community at hand, to make it "homey" for the time being.

As a nomad, its both freeing and difficult to know that I don't have a place I can call home in the sense others talk about it. My family - my "home" where I grew up - would always welcome me back, and I will always make it to visit, but as many know from tales of my visits there, this place is not now (nor do I ever see it being in the future) a place I could call "home."

I'm at peace being a nomad. I'm okay with being a part of communities for limited times, whether it be months or even years at a time. Its refreshing, insightful, and hopeful. Every new place, culture, community I encounter or become a part of teaches me something and plays a role in shaping me to become a better person for tomorrow.

Perhaps being a nomad for me is about knowing that in all I've done and all that I've seen and in all of the people I've met, one thing is continually reinforced: no one ever has- or perhaps ever will- truly know me. [Part of this relates to my blog yesterday about being a traveler and having different parts of me scattered throughout the world.] I am yet to know a person who will not let me down from time to time. No one, that is, except God. God who is constant, loving, and empowering no matter where I am or what the situation. It is upon that refreshing realization in each new community that I realize the one person I look up to most- Jesus- was also a nomad. No really ever knew him well either. And that's okay.

In these realizations, I am comforted that while it would be nice to have a "home" to go to, it is okay that I don't.

John Wesley said "the world is my parish" - and I truly believe that some people are called to be nomads and minister to the world in such ways. He was. I believe I am. I am thankful there are different types of people called to different places, and I am thankful that one thing I don't have to worry about in ministry is fear of the itinerant system, for I would have it be no other way.

1 comment:

digitaldion (Dion Forster) said...

Hey Jen,

I can identify with you! I am also a bit of a nomad...

6 years has been the longest I have lasted in a community (Church / Ministry) thus far.

Of course, as my family has grown I have had to do my best to resist the urge to want to move along all the time....

Much love and blessing from Africa!