Saturday, May 31, 2014

Packing my bags

Photo by Natasha Mileshina
I am going to be late for my flight to Ethiopia. I am standing in the hallway, bags in hand. The others are not ready, so I follow them into their rooms, nagging. "Let's go, let's go," I say. "We're going to miss the flight if we don't leave soon."

I am not entirely sure why I am going to Ethiopia. I haven't thought beyond making the flight.

We reach the airport, make it in the terminal, but my friends are lagging behind, and I press them again. "We need to get to the gate!"

A man passing by brushes my suitcase, and it falls open. There is nothing inside. I've forgotten to pack.

I run back home at saber-speed. I begin throwing clothes in the suitcase. More shoes, and sandals. It will be hot there. I might need a sweater or two. I empty my underwear drawer into the suitcase. My passport! Where is my passport? I am pretty sure I will be too late, I have already missed the flight, but I have to try. I keep dashing around, filling my bag. I don't have time to think if there is something else I've forgotten. This haphazard job will have to do.

*

My alarm goes off. For a moment I'm disoriented, frenzied. Then I breathe out, relief.

There's no flight to catch, no journey, no empty suitcase. Only eggs to cook and teeth to brush and a moment to sit still on the front porch, welcoming the day.

*

This is something of a recurring dream for me: rushing to catch a bus or train or plane, running into some essential obstacle.

The empty suitcase stays with me all day. I am rushing to get to seminary in two months, and maybe in all the commotion, my bags have not been packed. Maybe I do not have the experience or gifts or skills necessary for this. Maybe I have concentrated so much on getting to seminary that I don't remember why I'm going. Maybe I'm trying to cobble a cohesive theology and a vision and a plan together last-minute, without time to breathe it in, think it through.

I have had so long to prepare. For two years I have been looking ahead to this, standing in the doorway, ready to move. But I have not picked a track, a denomination. If I don't get it all figured out within a few months, I may not finish on time. I may not be eligible for a job when I graduate.

This is something of a recurring fear for me: wanting to have it all figured out lest I miss the boat, miss my chance to have an impact, to live fully into my gifts.

But there is no flight to catch at all. It is more of a long walk. God's love and guidance are available always, unscheduled, no security lines or last call for boarding. Mercy is new every morning, and life's callings are found on a winding path, not through a narrow door at the end of a straight terminal. In the journey we are all on, we pack as we go.

It is true, I am not prepared. I am not supposed to be. I am only supposed to be open, moldable, listening to the spirit, and willing. It is true, this summer as I embark, I am receiving a healthy blast of humility. I have also stepped intentionally into the good, challenging work of reflection. I am reaching down to a depth in myself that I haven't explored for months. I am remembering wisdom and yearnings that have been dormant for some time. I am refining, being refined.

I know I am called to witness to the great Love I have known in Jesus Christ. I know I am called to learn in the Duke community. If I am seeking to live and grow into these paths, it is enough for now. I may not know exactly where I will be arriving in three years--but the truth is I won't be arriving at all, only continuing to walk and live and learn and listen.

So there is no way I can be late.

I STILL HATE PICKLES

5 comments:

  1. Love this. If we always want to just arrive, we will not enjoy the walk. I'm excited for you and the opportunities you have at Duke! Enjoy the journey, like I know you will.

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  2. Wisdom seems to be a close friend. Keep walking. :)

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  3. Kirsten OliphantJune 7, 2014 at 9:48 PM

    I really thought I already commented! But maybe the internet ate it. Visiting to check your layout and read this again. It stressed me out in your dream, which is a sign you wrote it well. Esp because it was the second time. :)

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  4. Haha thanks! And thanks for your feedback and good tips on layout etc.

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