Friday, March 28, 2014

Pilgrimage--meditating on Abraham's call to follow God to an unknown land of promise

“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people, and your father’s household to a land I will show you.

‘I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great (change your name), and you will be a blessing.’” Genesis 12:1-2

Long ago done. Done again and again. Trailing spouse leaves career, identity, beloved spaces; goes out known once more only as “his wife.” Shepherds the children, sets up a space, finds the necessities, learns how to make home with foreign resources.

Saudi Arabia at 21. Alaska at 23. Wyoming at 26. Scotland at 36. United Arab Emirates at 49. Leaving job offers, graduate school plans, homes, family, friends, career and profession, ministry passion, community admiration.

Learns to drive crazy, shuffles paperwork, checks out schools, sews labels into countless bits of school uniform, comforts children bereft of pets and other friends, combs foreign shops, figures out how to get things done. Watches and listens for new purpose and place while he goes to work, gets introduced and promoted, renews friendships--his days full of dignity and purpose. Invited, needed, appreciated.

Invites people. Watches for community. Puts herself out there. Writes letters and checks the mailbox often.

More lately comes Turkey at 52, and Spa for the Soul. A pilgrimage she chose, a movement forward with vision and purpose. Pursuit of a dream, an invitation from Jesus made to both of them. For the first time she goes before, buying and renovating, training in spiritual direction, learning language.

So many journeys of letting go, of pilgrimage, of finding new life. Always there has been joy to follow confusion, grief, loneliness and loss of role. Much joy—pressed down, poured out, running over. Would not have missed it. So grateful. The journeys enrich and mold her. Suffering and transition give way to unimagined opportunities. and expansive ways of knowing and learning to love God’s world.

She knows Him through Indian laborers gathered to sing praise in her Arab living room, bargains struck in ancient souks, bone-jarring rollicks over silent deserts, graduation at the top of her law school class, life and fellowship and work among the invisible working poor, teaching Bible across cultures, the love and faithful prayers of old folks, death-bed watches, tramps through hills and valleys for days on end, an ever-open home that lends safety and shelter and listening for the world, life immersed in nations, and the never-ending journey of adapting and flexing and learning and loving and being loved. Secretary turned lawyer, turned Bible teacher, turned community leader and housing provider, turned mentor and change agent and caregiver, turned encourager and director and simple place-maker. Turned Momi and Grandma to American, Albanian, Dutch, Nepalese, Pakistani and Turk dear ones.

A full, proactive life of influence settles now to quiet waiting and loving. Much removed and released so that new can emerge.

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