All I have to do is walk the sidewalks for random memories to pour over me.
- There’s where I was sitting when I told S that her boyfriend was, in fact, gay.
- Here’s my old dorm room where H came to crash for a few weeks after her mother died.
- Over there on the wall of the gallery where several of us worked is the once barely-attached-to-the-wall painting we used to borrow to “give” to each other for birthday gifts only to return before morning. Who doesn’t need a Rembrandt? (Note: It’s now securely bolted to the wall. I checked.)
- There’s the bush where I threw up after stumbling upon my boyfriend making out with his future wife.
- And over there’s the house where four of us, standing around bored at a party, decided to go to Europe together after graduation.
I haven’t lived here for 35 years but it’s my Ur. God called me out of here to go where I hadn’t planned to go.
My current home is a community in the Midwest where many residents grew up as children. They left home for college, perhaps, but returned to settle down and live their lives. I know several people who live in towns like this across the country. They’ve chosen to stay put for lots of good reasons. Some towns are basically great places to live, great places to raise a family.
Who wouldn’t want to live in a place that’s comfortable and familiar and safe?
Place is sacred in my theology. God calls us to specific places.
Some of us are called out of all that’s comfortable, familiar, and safe. And some of us aren’t. Neither is better than the other.
Occasionally loved ones have directly asked me: Why have I chosen to live so far away? Maybe it feels like I don’t want to be geographically (or even emotionally) close to family. Actually, it would be nice to live closer to them.
But sometimes God calls us to go. Remember Abram & Sarai? I believe that God still calls us away. Maybe not all of us are called to do this, but many of us are. This – I’m convinced – is why Shane lives in Philly, Margie lives in Jordan, Joanna lives in Thailand, and Matt lives in Pittsburgh.
God doesn’t say, “Please leave” or “Leave if you feel like it.” It’s more of a “This is your next call. Go.”
Honestly, it would be nice to live in NC again. Or Virginia. Or NY. All places I’ve loved calling home.
But God’s called us elsewhere. And because we are loved, God makes life beautiful wherever we’re sent. This is grace.
Image is Abram and Sarai by Marc Chagall.