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Home?

My flight touched down in Chicago last night after almost 24 hours of traveling.  I am home now, close to six weeks after I left.  And while in one sense it is so good to be home – to have a hot shower for as long as I want, use a real towel, sleep in my own bed with clean sheets, walk the streets of my neighborhood in the cool morning light as I head to one of my coffee shops – in the other, it is terrifying.  I had six weeks away from the day to day – six weeks of self-discovery, of newness, of walking slowly, of inhabiting silence, of learning to listen to God, to my body, to others, to the world around me.  I had six weeks where I did not eat a single meal alone.  It was lovely.  Six weeks of talking to strangers and finding that we weren’t strangers at all, but family.  Six weeks of simplicity – of sharing – of community – of delight.

Joy

It has changed me.  I feel more free – more myself – less afraid – less isolated.  More who I want to be, more who I was made to be.  I return tired, but full to overflowing.

And the thing that gives me pause – that scares me more than anything – is that I don’t want to lose that.  Now begins the process of learning to walk the Camino here in Chicago.  Friends have told me this, and commented on it.  I have read that the true Camino begins once you arrive in Santiago, and realize that your entire life is a pilgrimage – and that what matters is not only the destination, but the process of arrival.

I remember returning back to college after spending four months in Nepal and India with WMF, and being terrified that I would slowly forget the lessons I had learned – the relationships I had made – the people I had met – the growth that had happened.  And I didn’t want that at all.  So I made changes to my life.

That process begins again today.  As I look back on this last year, much of it seems covered in fog.  I was existing, but not really living.  Isolating myself from those who loved me, seeking intimacy and relationship from books and TV and movies and fantasy and imagination…  So, time for changes.

I’m not sure yet what those changes will look like.  Simplicity.  Relationships.  Sabbath.  Community.  Slowness.  Grace.  Celebration.

Toast

But my goal for the Camino was to learn to hear God more clearly so that I might be more closely attuned to the things that really matter upon my return to “normal life.”  Now begins the hard work of continuing to walk when there aren’t necessarily yellow arrows spelling out your next destination.

Or maybe I just need to learn to pay a little closer attention to what’s around me…

Arrow

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and suddenly, you’re home…

It hit me out the blue today – but Chicago really feels like home.  A combination of thoughts as I reflected on today and the past week boiled over and left me feeling content, restful, and settled in so many ways.  Here’s a couple vignettes of why this place has all of a sudden felt like home:

– Sunday morning Dad and Heather came over to my apartment – we spent time getting food ready, the ham in the oven, and then off to church…  worshipping together in a space that celebrates beauty and truth, with friends and brothers and sisters – cello and bass and mandolin fusing with bagpipes and chorale echoing through the spacious cathedral, stained glass and liquid light and warm sound as we celebrated the victory of Life over death…  Then everyone back to my place for cooking and laughter and stories and an abundance of food – my heart overflows…

– Lunches at hole in the wall pubs and Jewish delis, cheese and wine with friends before small group, fasting and prayer and awareness of lack – and all those shared with friends old and new.

– A job that is challenging, growing, fulfilling, and loads of fun – newness and variety and opportunity – and all of that with a great fit for who I am, what I value – conversations with teenagers about what it was like being smuggled across the border, their families, their hopes, their fears, their problems and frustrations…  Laughter and games and bad movies and bad haircuts and temper tantrums and breakthroughs…  Amazing coworkers and laughter intertwined through it all.

– The lake – a running path from my door to the waves and the water, the skyline of Chicago floating behind me or before me, wind and sand and sky, races and smiles and the joy of movement…

– My church – small group – a people who value questions, and prayer, and food, and worship, and service, and action, and justice, and faithfulness, and each other…  Volleyball and soccer and teaching and praying – beauty and pathos – life…

– Friends – from roommates who have become like brothers to coworkers, people from school, church friends, and the like – helping move and sharing meals and laughter and prayer and movement towards the ineffable.

Tonight, I’m thankful that this place is becoming home…

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