Friday, March 26, 2010
I want to share an interesting article with you about a friend of mine, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. Perhaps Jonathan's greatest accomplishment is that he had the wisdom to marry a former student (and current friend!) of mine, Leah Wilson... I have appreciated Jonathan's writing. He is remarkably prolific for someone is not even 30 years old... maybe that makes me a little jealous too! Author on a Mission Finds Joy in Staying Put.
This particular article clicks with me because I moved around frequently in my growing up years: landed in 3 different kindergartens in one year, moved after 1st grade and 5th grades too. Rough waters for a shy kid (yes, believe it or not) who was a bit too much inside her head and not terribly gifted socially. Let's put it this way: I read encyclopedias for fun. By the time I graduated from high school, I had not lived anywhere more than 6 years.
I vowed that when I grew up I would stay in place. I would not move. So since arriving in Santa Barbara for college in 1979, I have remained. (Admittedly, not a difficult call on some levels. It's a lovely place to live.) But as Jonathan says in the interview, "Stability... is a commitment to face into [a] problem and grow." After stepping away from a wonderful church community and ministry last year because I just knew it was time to do so, I had to work hard to fight the urge to move and "flee" the discomfort of such deep change. But staying put has forced me to face many things, to dig in deeper to some key relationships, and be stretched in new ways. I am grateful. For me, the beauty of being in one place has given me roots that have sunk down deep. I love running into folks I knew 25 years ago, and seeing what has happened in all those years since. I am blessed by marking time in landmarks and memories and history with others.
In terms of a career of working with students, I have had to say goodbye so often. As I have said during graduation ceremonies, "My job is to watch people leave -- this is not easy." I have told them that each one of them gets a room in my heart, and when they move, I do not turn over the bedroom to someone else or redecorate. Instead, I leave the room empty, with the bed made and the light on. I am ready any time they want to visit. This has been one of the joys of staying put.
More could be said. But all for now.
P.S. I'd also highly recommend one of Jonathan's books from last year, co-written with his college pal Shane Claiborne, Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers: Prayer for Ordinary Radicals. I assigned it for Westmont Mayterm class on Summer Internships, and the students really enjoyed it. We also had a great time interviewing Jonathan via Skype during one of the class meetings. He is thinking outside the box in many ways, and I learn from him. I especially like his work related to "new monasticism."