As I've struggled to find words in the past few months...or at least words to write anyway...I've been largely unsettled. At first I didn't identify what it was I was feeling, but now I remember this. Unsettled.
Ordinarily unsettled would be a bad word for me, but not at this moment. At this moment, it actually seems highly appropriate and a welcome time in life.
The past few years have been out about settling in. Adjusting to being divorced. Adjusting to being mom and dad to my kids 95% of the time. Adjusting to a different church community. Adjusting to a new set of friends and peers in my career. Finally about a year ago, I began to realize, by and large I was settled again. And it was a nice change, turnabout. It made sense.
Now, in the normal course of life, change comes again. More and more I have felt a change coming. I'm not getting re-married, my kids are still the priority of my life. But, I have realized that the faith community I find myself involved in isn't really what I need. And in the same moment, I realize the community is also not what I want. The needs I had, the needs they had...they coalesced briefly. But, now, it seems more and more that leaving really is the next step. It's not a running away sort of thing. It's time to move on.
I find myself preparing for the journey I know is coming. I'm being lulled out of the comfortable, roomy place I have been hanging out in for the past few years. Instead of that making me uneasy, it actually makes a lot of sense at this moment, in this time.
The church I've lighted at the past few years is a nice place to visit. But ultimately I don't fit in a permanent way. I'm not a lifelong Episcopalian. While I still find myself drawn to the Episcopal Church, I don't find myself drawn to the small, often inwardly-focused sort of place I currently myself in. The debates over programs and liturgy are not meaningful for me. While I have found myself drawn into the discussions at times, I don't feel drawn in because this is my family. Rather, I feel drawn in because I think I can help. And of course that's not really relationship. Everyone needs a community. I have to believe that in fact I'm like most other folks, I'm made for community. The question is what community? When? How does it look?
The only community I really think is authentic is one formed out of relationship. While commonality is useful, it really has little to do with community. When I think of my circle of friends - the ones that are also friends with one another - while we share some commonality - our relationships are not built on the foundation of need. Instead we are a community because we want to be. There is a desire to be with one another. A want - to be involved in each other's lives. I want to know these people better. I want to share our journeys - because I have presence/presents to offer them and I am able to receive from them those things that make me a better person. This community is gift. While it has its share of difficulties, miscues and pain, it is by and large a great thing.
Each community in my life seems to be present for a reason, a season or some such thing. What I feel called to these days is a faith community that it outwardly focused. Where we meet, who's in charge or how it looks isn't really of much concern to me. What is of concern to me is what the point is. Is the point to build relationships with the least of these? Is the point social justice? Is the point to serve others first, and ourselves last? I sure hope there is such a thing. That's where I want to go. And if it doesn't exist, then God help me, I feel the need to create such a community.
So, for once in my life, change actually seems imminent, and it's not making me queasy. I know something that can exceed my expectations waits, just down the road. And rather than staying for the sake of proving I can stay, I look forward to leaving in search of a new sense of being settled.