Bearnaise Sauce Dogs, Call, Ministry of the Meantime, The Inner Landscape


This morning Sam and I went walking outside our usual neighborhood and made our way to the street where I lived before my divorce. I wanted to diverge from our usual route in part to see whether last week's storm had damaged trees in the old neighborhood. Sam went along with me cheerfully, sniffing eagerly at message boards he doesn't usually get to read, so to speak. 

We walked past the yellow house where I lived from 1993 to 1997, from soon after my mother died until just before my father did. We circled that block and passed the park where my boys learned to ride their bikes. Then we walked toward the University and through the campus via an unfamiliar route, finally meeting up with the Law School side of the street, a landmark we walk past almost daily. 

Then, and only then, would Sam do his more serious "bidness." 

We might call it his home turf, his territory, his neighborhood, his comfort zone. I wonder if for Sam, as for me, it isn't that he feels better in his particle space?

I wrote about our neighborhood, our street and my sense of gestalt on my previous blog a few years ago. I made a case for this being our right place, and then at the end I pulled out the pavement beneath my feet, suggesting the inner world mattered more than the outer. I wrote the post at a time I was coming to realize I had to leave Small Church, as they were no longer going to be able to support a full-time pastor. I was trying to prepare myself for the possibility of leaving Esplanade Street, as I called it. 

Yesterday after church, Snowman and LP and I walked Sam together, and we talked about our trees, the way we would feel if our street didn't have this esplanade of maples. "It would just be any street," we agreed. We've lost a lot of trees in this neighborhood, many in the Patriot's Day storm of 2007, more this past week. The tree in front of our house, overspreading our yard, helps describe home to us.

As it turned out, we didn't have to move for me to have another job. What had to happen was for me to move, once, twice, now three times. And it's important to me today to remember how becoming settled here mattered so much to us. Would I keep changing jobs every year or so in order to walk on these sidewalks and check in on these trees? 

Do I have to trade one kind of stability for another?

Much as I have enjoyed my interim jobs, and I hope I've done them well, I wish I could have both a settled community of faith and my settled particle space at home. I've come to believe the two don't have to be in conflict, but I haven't seen yet where they might be in relationship. I hope that the way will become clearer, soon, that I will see my way home.

4 thoughts on “Home”

  1. I wish you could stay at First Parish and call it home. Because of you, it has become more of a home church for our family, and we’re so thankful you’ve been a part of our lives this year!

  2. Marty, you are sweet, thank you. Of course in this situation I come in knowing it will be short term, which both grants great freedom and involves much poignancy. I’m glad to know your family, too!

  3. A random thought that has more to do with Sam than the real content of your post…we call it “checking the pee-mail” Our dog Dunstan does his bidness in almost exactly the same spot on our walk each day. Must be a mailbox there or something…

  4. I am so intrigued by your phrase “a settled community of faith.” That’s it. The phrase just churns up so many questions – a settled community of faith. I hope I can write about that sometime.

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