Time to Go?

marc-chagall-abraham-and-sarah-bibleVacation feasting continues as I gorge on memories here in the town where I was born and raised, went to college, married my HH, and said goodbye to my parents.

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.

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3 responses to “Time to Go?

  1. This is such a beautiful entry. I, too live in a place where I was not born, was not raised. And I, too, live in a place which has become special to me. In almost 30 years of ministry I kept hoping God would call me back to Greenville, SC – another place I wasn’t born or raised but a place I call home. But God’s call took me elsewhere, and we have been blessed by it. As it sounds you have, too.

  2. Truth – and beauty – in your words. As one who left NE Ohio in 1977 for several subsequent Southern locations, I have called them “home” in ways that my community of growing up now longer is, for me – they’ve been places that have taken me in, when I’ve had to go there (allusions to Robert Frost, Death of the Hired Man). And that has led me to understand grace, and place, and call, in deeply significant ways.

  3. As a recent transplant to the Midwest and preaching on Hebrews text from the lectionary focusing on the faith of Abraham this is especially poignant.

    Did I mention that my parents live in West Virginia and my wife’s parents live in Oregon?

    I’m probably going to use some of this for my sermon this week. Don’t worry I’ll cite my source.

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