How To Go Well, part one
I had been going back and forth for quite some time trying to figure out whether I wanted to stay here at Spring Arbor or go. My plans regarding leaving were super variable. I thought of heading out to California and getting into graphic design and photography on my own, of spending an extended period of time in Puerto Rico working on my Spanish and then hitting up South America, or heading to Hawa’ii to intern on a tea farm.
Today, I’m in Jackson, MI and will be attending my first two classes of the Spring semester.
To take off and leave. I think that desire in me is part of my personality, a soul bent if you will, and also strengthened in part by living as a missionary kid. I recently heard that missionary children are much more apt to be flighty and such. Knowing a few of them myself, I can see it. I also heard some other statistics on MK’s, but I’ll keep those to myself for fear of putting off anyone who may be considering taking their kids overseas.
One of C.S. Lewis’ most famous quotes states,
“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
Another world. Whether Lewis was speaking of a world across the void or this planet devoid of rejection of God and all that that brings, I think we can find solace in these words as well as a compulsion to bring this world closer to its’ intended state. Although groups and societies are less civil, as individuals we’re generally compassionate and responsible, right? So how are things the way that they are? And in the face of “the way that things are”, how are we- as Christians, and as humans- to respond?
A past issue of Sojourners had an article by Isaac S. Villegas and Jonathan Wilson Hartgrove entitled “Stability vs. Mobility”. The tagline- “Should we stay or should we go? Being rooted in one place is a good thing, but faithfulness doesn’t end where the road begins.” I found it to be a very fair, sober look at the issue. In the end, the main point was that either could be good, so long as for the right reasons and with right understanding. Total truism. We have examples throughout the Bible and church history of persons living rightly through both manners. What’s important is the “why” of it, which absolutely affects the “how”. When the “why” and “how” meet in the right spot, you’ve found it.
“Shortly after The Wisdom of Stability was published, I got a call from the director of a mission agency who’d read the book. He asked if I’d come and speak to the global gathering of the group’s staff. I’d love to, I told him, but wondered why they thought a word on stability was needed. “Well, we have a problem in missions,” he said. “We keep sending people who’ve never belonged anywhere. They don’t seem to have much capacity to connect with the places where we send them.”
In a hypermobile culture that has maxed out our technological ability without much attention to the long-term social and ecological consequences, I’m convinced that we’re in desperate need of some Psalm 1 witnesses: people of faith who are like trees, planted by the waters, putting down roots in particular places, and building communities that advocate for the common good. On the other side of peak oil, everyone is going to be desperate for wisdom about how to stay well. The good news is that we have a treasure trove of wisdom in the literature of monastics, who’ve made vows of stability for more than 1,500 years.
But as I’ve continued to advocate for a recovery of the wisdom of stability, I’ve emphasized more and more that I don’t think Christians should stay instead of go. Rather, I think we need to learn how to stay so that we can go well. The stability that’s at the heart of scripture and the Christian tradition isn’t opposed to mission. It is an integral part of it.”
There’s depth in those words.
*Sojourners. July, 2012. Villegas, Wilson-Hartgrove.