I remember in all the promise of my young twenties feeling like I could live anywhere and that I belonged outside of my town, state, and country. That I really was better than all those Americans who don’t own a passport or haven’t left the country. I was refined. Cultured. Well-traveled. Now, I’m solidly in my mid-thirties, with four children and I have only left the country out of necessity (primarily to defend my PhD dissertation two years ago). I don’t fly on airplanes, I drive a minivan instead.
I live between a push-and-pull desire to stay put, put down roots and enjoy the gifts of walking my children to school or circling through the same neighborhood paths in our evening walks; and another strong desire, to run away. Every time we drive by the airport, I really just want to jump out of the car and hop on a plane and see where it’ll go. New smells, and tastes, and sights, that are just so much bigger, or older, or grander than my present. There’s a thought that if I just have enough cultured experiences then I’ll be more than simply the status-quo, the housewife staying home to raise her children.
I don’t think that longing for adventure or travel or foreign sites is simply escapism though; at least for me, I feel like there may be a legitimate sense of calling that moves me away from the known. But that’s not here right now. It’s not my present reality. What I have right now is a mortgage and children and a calling to stay put.
We all want to run away. And yet the call of the gospel is to dig in, in all the muck and mire of the moment and sit. Quiet. Still. Even if we’re traveling around the world, the challenge is still to be present, to not run away, to show up and stay put. Through hard conversations where you’re bold enough to tell the truth and kind enough to be gracious. Where you pursue friends, even the unlovely ones, because you have been pursued by an extravagant grace. Where you sit and mourn with your friends as they or their parents hear hard diagnoses. Where you find beauty in simple things.
Because I don’t need the Eiffel Tower or a Tahitian holiday to satisfy me (though both would be nice!). Travel for travel’s sake is worthy and expands your sensibilities and helps you to feel a bit lost, all good things that happen as places sink into your soul. But right here and right now is what matters — how I treat those around me, how I can savor a cup of coffee even if I’m exhaustedly making it, how I can pause to enjoy the crunch of leaves underfoot and the little walking liturgies we inhabit day to day. Because here my character is formed; here I show who I really am.
This is the twenty-second post for the Write 31 days challenge, where I’ll be writing every day through the month of October. I’m excited to see what comes of this daily practice. I’d love for you to comment, pin the above image, share posts and subscribe to receive posts to the right in the sidebar as we work through these things together. Posts in the series are all linked to from the first post.