Saturday, January 19, 2008

on being a nomad

Sometimes I wonder why it is that God let me have this life.

Out of any lifetime, or ethnicity, or country, or heritage, I am meant to lead this one. Some entire countries are starving, while other people are drowning in their own wealth. I am far from complaining, I am so thankful. But why me? Why do I get the ability to write, and sing, and move and create things? Why was I blessed with a supportive family while others struggle to be understood? Why am I reaping blessings I could never deserve, while other honorable people are fighting for their lives?

Don Miller says "We have one story, you and I, and that is it."

Today I was struck with the fact that I need to be more efficient with my time here on earth. That I need to be more attentive to God, and to the plans He has for my life. Sometimes I box myself in, and say that since the world says I need a degree, and the world says I can't succeed without one, that I need to spend four years of my life earning one. I'm not saying I don't want a degree, and I think a lot of people that follow that plan live amazing, adventure-filled lives. But what if I'm wrong?

I had dinner with my Popo tonight, my grandpa. Over decaf coffee and fettucini, we had a great conversation.

"Popo, sometimes I think I would be a great nomad... Jesus was a nomad. He travelled by foot and ministered to people. Sometimes I think I could do that. There are a lot of times I want to embrace the mystery of leaving it all behind. Of living for more than the accumulation of worldy possessions that the Bible says we aren't supposed to value anyway."

He paused for a moment, and I talked about wanting to live with a family in Europe for awhile, learn a new language, a new way of life, appreciate a culture different from my own. Maybe backpack across South America, meet my sponsored children, see the Andes and the way the sun sets over the South Pacific. He smiled.

"You have so many gifts, with your writing and singing, and your ability with languages... if you wanted to be a nomad, then I think you would make a great nomad. In fact, the more you talk about it, the more I think you would fit that perfectly."

I smiled back at him.

"Not only that, but you are blessed with a personality that is content anywhere, that can adapt anywhere... and very few people have or even want that gift. Maybe God has a purpose for it all."

"If not permanently, then maybe for a season of my life. Temporarily," I responded.

When I travelled to Italy, one of the most defining moments of that trip for me was in Venice. Not in seeing the Grand Canal, or in feeling like I was walking inside of a postcard. It was at the top of the Rialto Bridge, when I heard an acoustic guitar coming from one of the stairwells. I met a man who was not homeless, but was a self-inflicted nomad. Indian-style, he sat with a faded guitar in his lap and a case open on the ground in front of him. He was from Hungary, but spoke perfect English; he played Spanish, Latin and some classical Italian songs. He was a seeker; a wanderer. The thing that struck me, was that he seemed more well-grounded, and seemed to know his purpose more than a lot of college graduates or long-time business partners.

It's not that I am trying to escape getting a degree, or that I am trying to talk myself out of one; I actually really want one. Contrary to popular belief, I enjoy school, and learning in whatever way I can.

But if there is more than that - if I am really here to live one life, then I want to live one with adventure, and outreach, and purpose. If I only get one story, I want to live one that is filled with the capturing new experiences, of reaching out, of being socially active. Of helping others and volunteering my time and effort. If the gifts I have been given are ones of language, and adaptation, and other cultures... then I should embrace them as often as I can, and at every opportunity.

Jesus said He came to give me life, that I could live it more abundantly. Even if that goes no further than the town I live in, or the people I interact with daily, I want to know that I did my best with the things I was given.

God, let it be so.

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