Saturday, August 20, 2011

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” - epicurus

{This blog was written over a couple of days. But for blog-sake, it's all one now.)

It rained not long ago. Probably sometime when I was cutting up zucchini bread or running the bath for Madeleine.  

I know this because the fire escape is still dripping, and the air is noticeably less thick, tired, heavy. Rain came and went and now the trees turn just slightly under the post-thunderhead breeze.  

I find myself fighting for contentment. It seems wrong to want to fight to be content. I keep thinking that contentment isn't something you should have to fight for. It should just be there, showing up at your window, like a rain storm that watered the earth when you weren't paying attention. But then I started counting again, and I remembered that being content has really little to do with what's going on around me, and a lot more with what's going on in me.

That book keeps popping up, and last night it came up in conversation again. The one where we read of people traveling and wonder why we're not doing it ourselves. The one that narrated part of our trip south and back again. He says he picked it up again, only to close it while reading in the middle of a laundromat. There's nothing more frustrating than reading of other's adventures while you're living in the normal and mundane.

I get it though. I've already set it down a few times myself. Tonight, I'm lying down on my still-unfurnished living room floor. Madeleine is asleep, and some Nina Simone quietly belts out from the stereo, and me? I'm reading. Arms stretched above me, the book shadowing my face, I read about these men who took to the road. Their stories. Questions, faith, God, dreams, love, fears, careers, youth. Roads that wind into mountains, beds made of meadow grass and ceilings of stars. I sneak a peek for a star and am met with the reflection of light on glass and a cityscape. My things are newly unpacked and I still just don't quite want to stop, settle and be. 

I will. I do. For now. Even though I can't stop thinking about my airline miles that are stored up, a couple vouchers, and one airline credit worth a flight. The stories, the people, the places, they're everywhere.

Having been both a nomad and a settler, I find there is thrill on both sides. 

Traveling is rich. Traveling is energy, passion, experience.

But to settle, to dig in the tough dirt when it seems useless, to put a stake in the ground and swallow some bittersweet tears…that's a kind of adventure I've known partially, not fully.

I'm not talking about a life that fades into the grey and becomes indistinguishable and unremarkable. Or one that empties itself of all passion and dreams, becoming so mundane that purpose circles the drain with a dying hope. Rather... To invest. To be fully known. Raise a child, show her a home. Open the same door every day to faces, to life, to community. Working hard. Knowing where the local bests are. Finding a world worth discovering within a morning a drive. Climbing hills you've known all along, but never set foot on before. Eating the fruit of local laborers, thanking them face to face. Living the gospel together when we wrestle, seek, grow weary, surrender. I know these things are real. I know they are rich too.

I've learned along the way that contentment is worth having right now. Even if it's not all perfect, or clear. If it's mundane, routine, travel-less. When hearts break, Grace abounds. When dreams die, Love lives. When everything settles into stable dust, Hope anchors deep and keeps the fire kindled.

I'm not hanging up my traveling hat, not in any way. Some day, hopefully sooner than later, I will journey again (even with the little M) to see, smell, touch, taste the world we've been given. But until then, I'm closing this book I've just finished and leaning back to look at the ceiling. One of home.

"I don't think we can really understand how time passes. We can't study it like a river or tame it with a clock. Our devices only mark its coming and going. I dropped an anchor three months back but time didn't slow. Some things have to end, you know. You feel like life is always leading up to something, but it isn't. I mean life is just life. It's all happening right now, and we aren't going to be any more complete a month from now than we are now." —Donald Miller, Through Painted Deserts


  1. This is beautifully written.

    Much I can relate to in my own life right now. To remain content through life's consistencies and non-consistencies, living day to day in what seems to be a rut that looks a lot like stagnation, that really could just be a God-ordained season of standing still... now surely, surely this is a tremendous task. To remain content. Still moving forward in where God is leading while retaining joy, and strength, and right perspective for each day. Despite all the bad, but looking for and finding all the good. It's there. Always.

    And like you've so finely thanks for the reminder and THANK GOD for that grace :)

  2. "A God-ordained season of standing still.." i love that. i am always so interested in what adventure He may lead me on, and never stop to think that perhaps the adventure is in the still. To remain. Thanks for your note. May we remain and be grateful for the grace that keeps us there... :)

  3. Love this. Love that book so much. So very much.

  4. lo - it is a good story, well told, isn't it? let's live good stories.