How much can change in a month? Enough, and then some.
One month ago, I had the ever-holy privilege of administering the sacrament of Communion to our beloved congregation in Idaho. I openly wept as I spoke each name, declaring the sacred words again: His body broken for you, His blood shed for you. Tears streamed down my face, off my nose and chin, right into the cup. I can only hope that pastoral tears shed for love edify the sacrament and add to the mystery. (At least one lady did not feel that way. When she saw me bawling over each blessed person, she very subtly slipped out my line and joined Tommy’s line, who was as always cool as a cucumber. No tear-enhanced communion for her, thank you very much!)
It seems a lifetime ago, but no. Only a month. Now, I am 1,852 miles away from what was home, having traveled through seven states, passed through two time zones, and slept in seven beds that were not my own. Our house in Ohio will close on July 3rd, so until then, we are the Lobdell Wanderers, low-level vagabonds reliant upon the hospitality of friends and family.
I wish I was a person who saw disruptions as opportunities for great adventure, and I can be in short spurts. With great enthusiasm, I point out the awe-inspiring rock formations of Wyoming and make everyone get out of the car in the rain to take a soggy picture in front of Lake Michigan. I say, “Look how lucky we are, to see so many friends and family that love us so well,” as we plod through state #6.
But the adventure wears thin as the kids tire of the novelty, and I find myself longing for home. It is a longing that cannot be satisfied, because where is home? It is no longer in our beloved #Idahome in our sweet little brick 1950 house. It is not yet in Ohio, not merely because we can’t move into our house yet. Ohio is foreign, unfamiliar. Home feels like the wind, passing by but never lingering. Flashes of familiarity but with no staying power.
When it became clear that we would be transitioning to Ohio, I asked one thing of the Lord: that the Lord would untether my heart from Idaho and the church I loved so deeply, so that I might love my new parish, unusual a parish as it may be, and love it well.
Untether. To separate or unbind. To pastor is give oneself over to a people, to tether one’s life to the life of a unique community for the sake of Christ for as long as God ask you to do so. It is costly, but it is the hard, beautiful way of shepherding. But the untethering, the separating in order to be bound to another in service and love, is costly as well. It feels like a rending within me, a rending that apparently produces enough tears to refill the communion chalice.
But here I am, untethered for the moment. Without a home for a brief season, a bit fatigued by the adventure of it all. And yet, I am hopeful. I am hopeful because I feel the Spirit stirring in me, gathering up the frayed ends of my love and pastoral devotion. She is weaving them together, preparing my shepherd heart to be tethered in love and service to another, what will become my beloved congregation: MVNU.
I wait in the in-between space, the already but not quite yet. It is a good place to be. It is a place reminiscent of that coming Kingdom of God for which we wait expectantly, in full trust of God’s intention to create a good future for Creation, and even perhaps for me and for you.
As for my longing for home, I am comforted and challenged by the words of Fredreick Beuchner who said, “I believe that home is Christ’s kingdom, which exists both within us and among us as we wend our prodigal ways through the world in search of it.”
May I find my home in Christ and give myself over fully to the waiting, resting in hope.
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