Friday, October 8, 2010
Weary of Wandering
Is it possible to feel homesick in your very own living room?
Lately it's been that way for me.
I've been doing my own wandering through the desert, looking for life-work that feels like home to me. Listening for God's voice to guide me.
I've been writing full time for several years now, and I want to write forever. I want to write about encountering God through the poor and through children, through the hungry and the forgotten, through the least of these. I want to write about motherhood and the poisonous way we compare ourselves to each other, the way we measure ourselves by an American culture bent on busyness and gathering stuff.
Writing makes me happy. It brings me to God's side.
But in the last few months, my heart has nudged me to search for more. To look beyond my computer screen, to the opportunity outside my window.
Even as I write, I need face to face work, something that will energize my soul and be yeast to my heart. I need to find that place my hero Frederick Buechner describes, "where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet."
I've put feelers out. I've told people I'm looking. I've wandered and searched. Where is God's answer?
In my fourth grade Sunday class at church, we've been telling the Old Testament stories.
We talk about Moses and his people wandering through the desert, listening for God to lead them to a home they've never known, a place God meant for them.
To tell you the truth, as I sit in our story circle and move the wooden figures through our sandbox desert, the people seem pretty whiney to me. Why did they moan and groan so much? Couldn't they remember that God took them out of slavery? Couldn't they keep their eyes on the future, on God's great promise to them?
But now I see me amongst the haggard group. I'd be the one complaining about my sore feet. Just a few months in, I'd be pointing to the villages on the horizon, saying "Look at them. They've got a home. What about us?"
I'm not a good wanderer. It's only been a few months, and I already get jealous of others. At times I feel invisible, ignored, left out. Sometimes the homesickness leaks out in tears. What have you got for me, God?
Sometimes I think I should just hang it up. Go back to the way things were long ago, when I thought more about finding something to use my degrees, rather than finding The Thing. I had a paycheck then. A job I could talk about.
But then I think of God's people, who did find home in the end.
I hang onto the liturgy of my life, the rituals that keep me going and feed me.
I write about God's presence. I take care of my family. I teach my Sunday school class and do my volunteering. I talk with my friends. I walk. I go to church and I search and I wait.
And I reread the passages of the wandering. God was with them, even as they wandered and fussed. He camped out beside them, and as they moved, He led the way.
I know God is with me too. I just hope it won't take forty years!
Have you ever wandered through your own desert, looking for home?
I'd love to hear about it.
Have a great weekend, y'all!
Photo by iko, creative commons
PS. If you're wandering too, here's a psalm that helps me.
I waited and waited and waited for God. At last he looked; finally he listened. He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn't slip. He taught me how to sing the latest God-song, a praise-song to our God. More and more people are seeing this: they enter the mystery, abandoning themselves to God.
Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God, turn your backs on the world's "sure thing," ignore what the world worships; The world's a huge stockpile of God-wonders and God-thoughts. Nothing and no one comes close to you! I start talking about you, telling what I know, and quickly run out of words. Neither numbers nor words account for you.
Doing something for you, bringing something to you— that's not what you're after. Being religious, acting pious— that's not what you're asking for. You've opened my ears so I can listen.
So I answered, "I'm coming. I read in your letter what you wrote about me, And I'm coming to the party you're throwing for me." That's when God's Word entered my life, became part of my very being.
I've preached you to the whole congregation, I've kept back nothing, God—you know that. I didn't keep the news of your ways a secret, didn't keep it to myself. I told it all, how dependable you are, how thorough. I didn't hold back pieces of love and truth For myself alone. I told it all, let the congregation know the whole story.
Now God, don't hold out on me, don't hold back your passion. Your love and truth are all that keeps me together. When troubles ganged up on me, a mob of sins past counting, I was so swamped by guilt I couldn't see my way clear. More guilt in my heart than hair on my head, so heavy the guilt that my heart gave out.
... But all who are hunting for you— oh, let them sing and be happy. Let those who know what you're all about tell the world you're great and not quitting. And me? I'm a mess. I'm nothing and have nothing: make something of me. You can do it; you've got what it takes— but God, don't put it off.
Psalm 40: 1-12, 16-17, The Message