It’s the title of a kind of disturbing short story I read once for a summer Literature class back in community college. It’s the best I can do for a punny title so late in the game, so forgive me. I’ll do better, probably.
Greetings and salutations from where I am to wherever you are. It’s been…well…let’s not get caught up in the details. Time has elapsed. That’s the long and short of it, and while I could sit here and explain my absence, I would much rather look forward to my presence in your future.
Adventures are afoot again.
There is an anticipation to be on the road. My bones ache from the stagnation of routine and everyday life. Is that to say that I’ve grown weary of my home, my family, my friends, and my work-away-from-work? Not at all. But the heart always longs for those faces and places that were so special and formative to me nearly a year ago. I feel like I’ve been living my life in earnest expectation of the summer months. Ask anyone. I haven’t shut up about it since I came back. I’m pretty annoying, probably.
But it isn’t time yet. For all the waiting I’ve already done, there’s still a little more to do. My patience has only almost paid off, and if I’ve made it this far, I can surely make it a little further.
Patience. I’ve been so bad at that lately.
Aside from the obvious excitement, I worry I’ve built this experience up so much in my mind that I’m only setting myself up for some level of disappointment. Inasmuch as service in this vein is a big part of what I’m meant to do, there’s a bit of a selfish aspect to it, beyond just the fact that it’s fulfilling. I guess, let me put it to you this way:
These retreats —this opportunity— the first time it appeared in my life, came during a season of immense difficulty and discomfort. It ushered in the growth I needed to make me who I am today. Now, all this time later, the circumstances haven’t changed. Or rather, they have and –all the same– just happen to resettle into the same grooves of my life. Things have gotten messy for me again. Internally, this time, not externally like last time, and I’m in such need for a reset. I guess that’s what I mean by the selfishness aspect. I benefit from the work as much as any of the other people actually attending the retreat. But I guess that’s the point. These things don’t work in one direction.
Difficulties come in different forms. Their shapes and sizes may change; they may have different edges than you last remembered, but they are at the core the same thing over and over for each individual. My difficulty—my cross— is my stunted growth. I become too comfortable in my position and complacency takes over. All forward motion ceases, and I’m stuck. That’s where I am today. Stuck.
My difficulty is also losing perspective when things of this world capture my attention. Like a child, I’m enamored with the shiny lies of this broken existence —of my own brokenness— and I lose sight of the “calling to which I am called.”
Last year this mission helped me immensely. This year I find myself in dire need once more to fix my attention back onto my first love, Christ. The way I see it, there’s no shame in falling short occasionally, and there’s nothing wrong when you need help to get back on the path. I guess for me, it just becomes hard to find north on my own. This work is my compass: this is this tool I’ve been given to reorient myself.
On review, what I’ve written here feels disjointed and jagged. Maybe that’s just how it’s going to be for a while. Maybe that’s where I am for now.
I’ve decided that’s okay. But only for now.
To be continued soon. I won’t disappear again. Until then, as always—