I spent the holiday on Orcas Island with my family. It was beautiful. It was so beautiful. I mean really. Look at that view. (Those roses are maintained by the Episcopal Church in the center of Eastsound. They also had a labyrinth. I was in island and church heaven.) It wasn’t long before I heard my dad say:,”I could live here.” And it was like he was reading my mind. Well, sorta. My thought was more like, “Could I live here?” I want to be able to live in a place like this with an adorable town, an intimate church community, coastal wonders and mountain trails to climb. I love all of those things. And I want them. But, then, there’s the New York City part of me that rolls her eyes at small town life. I need more stimulation. Or something that I can’t quite name from my city days. And yet, something about this kinda of beauty calls to me. And why shouldn’t it? Look at that view. It was at that moment taking in this view that a line from my sermon started to take on a different meaning. It was then that I realized that I am a wanderer.
I’m not really comfortable putting this in words even as I heard myself preach it yesterday. I kept repeating that bit from Richard Swanson’s commentary that the Torah reminds us to welcome, feed and protect the wanderers most of all. I had intended to preach more about immigration and a call to service — but as I submit myself to the practice of preaching without notes, it came out a bit more personal. It’s not just they who wander. We wander too. We need to be welcomed, fed and protected. We all need that from God.
They say you preach the sermon you most need to hear. So maybe I did just that. Maybe I needed to be affirmed in my wandering spirit where I can’t stop myself from asking: what would it be like to live here? Stuck on Orcas Island on Saturday night, after missing the ferry that would haven’t gotten me home at a reasonable hour, I had a a beer at a nearby bar where this guy started talking to me. He’s lived in Seattle for over 20 years. I couldn’t really contain my surprise which turned into laughter when he told me that he didn’t like change. It’s an an inside joke I share with my church right now — but the truth is, I really do like change. I like some things to stay the same. I crave creature comforts like everyone else but my heart wanders to where else I might go. And it is a where. Not a who or a how. But a where. As I told the guy at the bar, there are just too many places to experience. The world is so wonderful and I want to see it all — not just on a visit but an extended stay.
These are probably not words that I should put out there on the internet. I wish I was able to write something like this because there is truth in these words. But it’s not my truth. This is my truth: I’m a wanderer. Church members will read them and think that I’m not committed. I’m not going to stick around. Maybe they will distrust my ministry. I hope not. I hope that they read these words only to understand that I’m not the settling down type. I don’t imagine my ministry in 20 year spans. I wish I did. But, that doesn’t seem to be who I am. I don’t know how long it will be. That’s in God’s hands.