Between Now and Next
I have the soul of a wanderer I suppose. My heart is keenly convinced that wonder does not live in cold, predictable and tidy. It is almost as if nostalgia for me is forward facing. I recognize it as the strange longing for that which has yet to be explored.
I have often pondered the origin of this strange gypsy spirit, supposing that it was birthed in the somewhat nomadic experiences of my childhood. Perhaps it has been even more firmly rooted in adulthood, as my calling to ministry requires a certain level of comfort with transition. And though I may not be able to boldly define its genesis, I understand that I am inexplicably drawn to endings and beginnings.
But though I love to wander beautiful places to which I’ve never been, suspicion is the nature of humanity when it comes to change. Moving is filled with stark contrast in its symbolism. The hope for new beginnings is often coupled with what might be crushing disappointments, loss anxiety and fear, for after all, there is the heartbreakingly exquisite tender weight of being human. There is always the danger that in a move to new horizons and far-away places that the very first thing that may rise to greet our arrival is loneliness. There is deep anxiety when we feel as if we are abandoning a safe harbor for the menacing sea. And our new destination, looks at us through unknown eyes with very little to say.
I write for a multitude of reasons. I write to find courage and to unearth the person that is at times hidden deeply within an often misunderstood exterior. I write, although frequently with fear and trepidation, to be seen and heard. I write to remember and I write to forget. I write because my words speak not of who I am on the outside, but of my heart, tender like a bruise longing to reach out to soothe another struggling soul. I write because someone needs to tell the tales of battles fought and won and lost. And I write because stories nurture our connection to one another, for one of the most profound gifts of the Father is the ability to let others know that they are not alone.
This is the turning of the year for so many with whom I partner in ministry. When the days wind down and when our souls nest somewhere between chaos and shape preparing some to march out again. And while the tangled emotions of promise and dread may be guiding our uncertain footing for now, today may simply be a time of sitting still and waiting. It may be a day for which we are to stop in our tracks to admire what is now without the consumption of what is to come. Perhaps to see in this place at this very moment, that which we have taken for granted on preceding days, wasting nothing, for it is all of value. It is an invitation to hold still, to tease back the layers and to embrace the tension between now and then.
We have no idea what lies ahead on any given day really. In life we will come and go often. We may leave an assignment, a city, and a home, but the people that inhabited those places do not leave us. They follow us, like shadows of sorts, until we happen upon them again at another time and another place.
The most beautiful things in life often come wrapped in a crown of thorns. We can have regret from yesterday and fear for tomorrow but today there is only peace as we tie ourselves to an unchanging and unquestionably loving God, who knows with unflinching clarity what doors of potentiality lie ahead. All is unknown to us, but life giving, as He writes yet another chapter in each of our stories. And I am utterly convinced that the Master of the wind and waves will calm unsettled seas and quiet restless hearts. For He will hasten our safe passage from here to next.