“The object of a question is to obtain information that matters to us, and no one else.”
- Sean Connery as William Forrester in "Finding Forrester"

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Monday, August 29, 2005

Three Years Later

Lately, I've been thinking about travel. As I've mentioned before, I've been to 14 countries through the course of my international travels between my Semester at Sea trip and my vacation this past spring. I looked down at my taskbar and noticed that it was exactly 3 years ago today when I said my goodbyes and boarded the plane for the first leg of my circumnavigation.

I was so nervous that day. Part of it was anxiety and part of it was anticipation. I don't particualarly enjoy starting over in a new place because of how nervous I get around people I don't know, but at the same time I was excited to do something I'd never done before. I'd been outside the US before but Canada doesn't really count, especially when you consider the farthest into Canada I had been was Toronto, which is only a few hours away. And even though Canada is considered travelling internationally, because I live in such close proximity to it, it's no big deal. In a lot of ways it's like driving down to NYC. I mean, the border is usually no more of a hassle as going through a toll booth anyway.

I feel like I refer to Semester at Sea a lot. While it isn't what I measure everything else in my life against, it is a major milestone in my journey. I learned a lot on the that trip: how to have that special balance of confidence, humility, and flexibility when traveling in strange new places; how to say "this is interesting" instead of "Ewwww" when eating an unknown delicacy; how to cross the streets in Saigon without being killed by the thousands of people on bikes; that seminary wasn't really where I was meant to go; that it physically hurts to see the poverty out there first-hand; that smiles are the universal language.

Ever since that trip 3 years ago I've had the itchy feet of a traveler. I feel this constant need to go to places I've never been before. I've already begun some of the initial searches for my next big adventure for 2006. Though I have a list of locations I hope to visit by the time I'm 35 I'm thinking that Alaska may be my next destination.

There's just so much beauty in the world and yet it's so easy to get caught up in all of the negative, ugly stuff that happens.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

One Step Closer to Being a Hermit

I feel like I should write something but I don't know what. It's another one of those times when there is so much going on in my head that writing it down would probably do me some good to make sense of it all. But I can't seem to put any of it in words. Maybe it's all been said before and there's no new way to say it. Maybe I've just hit a wall and there's nothin more TO say right now even though the desite to say something is there anyway.

Lately I've thought about not blogging anymore. I've been keeping up with it for about 2 months now and I know a few people have read it but I feel like I don't have much to say - at least, nothing greatly interesting or important or funny. When I first started keeping an online journal on my website it felt like a big step for me. It was a place to publicly say what I felt in the private areas of my life. It was risky for a non-risky person to just put myself out there like that. It was a way for me to step outside of myself while still being myself.

I don't have commentaries on books or important news of the day or even jovial rants on my life. I don't write to be noticed or to get any comments or anything like that. I write for me. I write to make sense of things. I write because I write better than I speak. So, if I write for me, why continue to blog? Who knows what I'll do.

It would certainly be one step closer to the "life of a hermit" thing that I seem to be going for.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Trust Me, I Know What I'm Doing

At the end of the work day, I came down from my office and sat for awhile with my mom - as I tend to - and we chatted about whatever: movies, plans for Friday night's dinner at my place, all the usuals. Soon, my dad came down and the three of us had a chance to talk about non-work, non-family related stuff. It was kinda nice. As I started relating some of what I've been going through my dad said something that made a lot of sense, something I hadn't really thought of before. He said something like, "there are some problems or issues or circumstances that have a clear, logical solution and it's generally fairly straight-forward and one can figure them out in a logical way. There can be a definitive answer and, in most cases, many people can come to the same conclusions.

"However, for every situation that has a logical solution there is a situation that cannot be solved through logic and reasoning. Sometimes, we are faced with a decision, a circumstance, or state of being that we can't use logic to explain our way through. Deep down in a place we can't pinpoint and in a way we can't articulate we are able to just know what is the best solution for ourselves in that time and place. There isn't always a right or a wrong here. It's highly subjective and individual. It's when our hearts take over because there's just something about it that our minds cannot handle."

It is in these times when we find ourselves in some level of conflict with those around us. When we can't adequately share what's going on inside it can cause tension and strain because not everyone will come to the same, or logical, conclusion. There can be misunderstandings all around. Things can be said that aren't clear and are unintended. It's hard to think or act with our hearts. It's frustrating sometimes. I know it is for me. I'm a logic person. I like to think things through. I like to listen to debate. I like to know reasons for things and examine all sides before choosing. But at the core of who I am, I feel like I'm truly a heart person.

This time in my life is filled with situations that are not logical in their nature. I'm not a very articulate person verbally. I need to take time to put my thoughts together. I'm not sure how much better I am in the written voice, though I feel stronger in it. And that makes it extremely difficult for me to express myself, especially when what I need to express is outside the bounds of logic, and even language. It's not irrational but it is emotional. Sometimes I just know what is best for me even though I can't tell you why.

It's like my most recent major life decision. I could rattle off a number of reasons why I made the decision but they may not satisfy your or my cause-and-effect line of thinking. I've tried to explain it away so it made logical sense. For years I've tried to use logic to affirm the exact opposite of this decision. And it just doesn't work that way because it's coming from a very different place. I know it may drive those around me crazy and cause them to think that I'm crazy or reckless or just plain wrong. And that's ok because sometimes reasons aren't enough. Sometimes, it just has to take a little faith.

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Usual

I know I haven't posted anything in a while but nothing all that blog-worthy has happened in my life lately. I've just been kind of going through the motions this week. Nothing terrible, nothing outstanding.

It's been somewhat busy with work. I finished the creative and constructive portion of a project that I've been focused on for the past two months which has left me feeling pretty spent by the time I got home. I did all the usual things during my "me time": grocery shopping, paying bills, relaxing in front of the tv. Over the weekend I did some much-needed sleeping in. I've been putting together puzzles some to give me something different to do - and to help me feel like less of a lazy bum. I'm currently about 1/3 of the way through a 1,000pc. puzzle of Monet's Red Boats, Argenteuil (1875). I'm a big Monet fan - I have a copy of his Les Barques, Regates a Argenteuil in my kitchen and I wrote an extensive research paper on him in high school - but damn it makes for a tough puzzle! To add to it, the pieces aren't necessarily the more "traditional" shapes.

I must say that I haven't been extremely happy lately. It's not that I'm sad or depressed or anything like that, just without joy. I know that since I moved and stopped attending the church I've been a member of for the past couple of years it could be said that I've brought upon myself this lack of social interaction that I am experiencing. I'm sure that that is true, in part, but it doesn't name the cause. Even though I don't attend that church anymore, when I was there I didn't really interact all that much with the people - no more than the usual small talk anyway. Since leaving and moving, I haven't really lost any friends - probably because I don't have all that many that live around here (none that live within a half hour) - and even though I don't have the social component that church brought it wasn't really offering a high quality, or quantity, of relationships so there really wasn't much lost there either.

Maybe it's on a more spiritual level that I notice this lull in my joy. A friend of mine was telling me the other day that a spiritual life cannot exist outside of the community. Even though the individual experience is an important part of it, the social aspects of the practice of religion is more important. I have to say, from the start, that I agree with the importance of the community and a full and meaningful encounter with the divine cannot happen in the vacuum of oneself alone. During the conversation, when I was explaining that even though I hadn't yet begun a formal search for my new spiritual home, I expressed that I've been doing my best to remain faithful. I've been taking time out of my days to be in prayer and to reflect on God's presence in the world around me, and so on. I know that it isn't enough to be faithful alone, I should be a part of a larger faith community as well. I just feel that during this time of transition when I'm not just jumping into something new to replace the old - rather I am still letting go of the old before I feel ready to embrace something new - I need to do something to keep myself connected with God, whether it's alone or not. Besides, it's only been a month and I am planning on beginning my visits the Sunday after Labor Day. I just don't feel like I should be told that what I'm doing isn't good enough. I hold the opinions of others, particularly friends, to be valid and worth considering. I even feel, more often than not, that they have a good point even if it doesn't happen to be the way I feel. And I try not to convince them that I'm more right than they are all the time. I would hope that they would feel the same about mine.

I've appreciated all of the support I've gotten from many of those whose opinions I respect the most - and I haven't appreciated it more because they say what I've wanted to hear. For example, I listen to and respect what my dad has to say a little more than I would others because of his experience, his intelligence, and, yes, because he's my dad - not in the sense that I have to because he's my dad, but because over the course of my life I find it hard to remember a time when he hasn't been right about the important stuff that life presents. He has a track record with me. We have a history.

I've gotten some skepticism though too, even some instances that have been taken as belittling of my decisions. I think that anyone who really knows me knows that I make decisions very thoughtfully, especially major ones. This decision was like none I have ever made before and more difficult too. It was a fundamental change which is why it took years for me to finally make it. I think it's impossible for someone to truly appreciate what I'm going through without having had a similar experience. No offense, but for someone who has lived in the same religious tradition his/her entire life and has known without much, if any, doubt what his/her beliefs are than it's difficult for that person to understand where I am with this. And they shouldn't judge if they don't really understand.

There are many approaches to every situation. Yes, there can be a difinitively wrong approach to certain situations, but to most it's more ambiguous. This is a hard process for me. One I've never been faced with before, ever. It's going to take some time. It's possible that I'm going to trip along the way. I just hope that compassion and supportiveness prevails when it's easy to judge and when the need to be "right" takes the lead.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

"How to Tell if You're a Bad Christian"

I was glancing at a few blogs this evening and came across this post on A Bad Christian Blog. It leads you to a test on Worldview Weekend.com. (Just for fun, here are my results.) Though I would agree because of my own definitions, apparently I'm a very bad Christian.

Basically, you "determine whether you agree or disagree with the statement based on your biblical worldview understanding" (emphasis added). This, to me, implies that your responses are your personal opinions which further implies - though I may be stretching with this one - that there are no "right" or "wrong" responses to the statements. I mean, it's not like you're answering definitive questions that are true or false, or even multiple choice. A statement is listed and you choose the degree to which you agree with that statement or not. Sounds simple and harmless and entertaining enough, right?

When I got to the results of my survey I wasn't surprised by the category I was placed in. I'm not sure how accurately it describes me, but I wasn't put off by it. What got me was, when I scrolled down to look at my detailed question breakdown I noticed that I was penalized for having "no opinion" on a particular statement or if my opinion wasn't the "correct" one. The strange thing with the scoring was that I got -2 for having no opinion, but I got only -1 for having the polar opposite opinion to the "correct" answer. Apparently, it's worse to have no opinion or to be in the middle than to be in total disagreement. The scoring is just skewed so much that someone who is more liberal will score lower. Even someone who is moderate in their views will score lower than someone who is conservative.

What concerns me about this test - which also concerns me about any fundamentalists - is the use of absolutes. For each statement, without fail, the "correct answer" is always one of "strongly dis/agree." You have the option to respond with "tend to dis/agree" but that's not good enough. Somehow, your worldview doesn't quite stand up tall enough, if at all, unless you are difinitive in your response; and even then, only when you are difinitive on their "correct" side. There's no room for middle ground, no room for ambiguity or doubt or compromise. Though it's cliche I think it's true when it's said that we live in the gray areas of life. Most times there aren't absolutes, dare I say it, even when it comes to God. The arrogance, not confidence or conviction but arrogance, that comes with the thought that one can know "the mind of God" to the exclusion of everyone else is asinine. That kind of exclusivist thinking leaves open no possibility that God knows or is things that we could never understand.

Hebrews says that faith is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen," right? Unless I am totally off the deep end - which apparently I am - that means there must be so much that we don't know - about the future, about the nature of things, about God - that faith is required to make peace with the uncertainty. Am I wrong? Faith is all about not knowing. Faith is letting God be God and letting that be ok. I'm tired of how fundamentalists and conservatives - or anyone else for that matter, let's not be too discriminating - put God in such small boxes to the point that all mystery and wonder and possibility is snuffed out. After all, it's easier, it's safer to have absolutes and to have all the answers. Dissent or disagreement, or even ambiguity, seem to be so much of a threat to those who live their lives through theological absolutes. We live in a fluid world, not a static one.

(Just as an aside because of some of the statements in the survey and this whole conversation: If gay marriage "threatens the institution of marriage," I just have to ask, will your marriage mean anything less, will your love for your spouse be any less because another pair of people are married? Does that mean the value of your marriage is based on the relationships of others? Is the sanctity of your union less sacred because two people take the same vows to love, honor, and cherish each other for the rest of their lives no matter what?)

At any rate, I take the survey with a grain of salt and I couldn't care less about the results or the scoring system - though it is kind of fun to complain about it. I just get a little steamed with the underlying mentality of exclusivism and fundamentalist audacity that seems to be so pervasive. I think it is harmful and dangerous. Especially when one is blind to the fact that fundamentalism can, and does, look the same no matter what religion you're looking at.

A late professor of mine once said, "If you don't question your religion, you're not taking it seriously enough." To me that says that we must live curiously, always asking the hows, the whats, the whys of life. Certainty clouds the possibility of fuller understanding. We must step away from thinking we know the answers and begin to open ourselves up to the radical concept of letting go and letting God. God's fingerprint can be found everywhere - especially where we can't imagine it to be.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Editor's Choice

Since mid-March I have been a member of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP) - the association to be a part of if you are a professional graphic designer and/or digital photographer.

Each week, the editor chooses his 7 favorite images or galleries and posts them on the front page of the NAPP Member Portfolio section. I've seen some of the great work that is being done out there and I often felt that many are working on a different level than I and they were always chosen to be highlighted as the Image of the Week or as the Editor's Choice. I thought it would be cool if my work were recognized by a professional organization aside from my clients - whose opinons do, in fact, mean a whole lot. Well today, being Friday, the NAPP website gets updated with news and other information to help members stay current on the latest technologies and creative techniques. Fridays are also when the Member Portfolio section is updated. So I went to take a look around, as usual, to see what was there - I visit regularly to see what other people are doing and to glean any ideas from their work. To my surprise, I saw a thumbnail of a picture I took while on safari in Tsavo East, Kenya in early November 2002 and my name linked to my portfolio as one of this week's Editor's Choices. So, until next Friday or so, feel free to visit the NAPP Member Portfolio section and see mine on display!

I find it interesting that this particular photo is the one everyone seems to like the best. I don't necessarily think there is anything wrong with it. For a picture taken with a 2.1MP camera that wouldn't really compete with today's level of cameras, it did ok. I just feel like I have others that I took that turned out much better and were more interesting to look at. Yet, whenever I've shown anyone this picture, almost without fail, the response I get is that it's their favorite. I just don't know what it is about it. I'm just glad people like my work.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Hidden Items in Public Places

Over lunch today I was visiting the ONE website and decided to read their blog. I was skimming the blogroll to the right and noticed a link to the blog of child star Wil Weaton. You may remember Wil from his days on Star Trek: The Next Generation or, if you're cooler, you remember him from the great coming-of-age movies Stand By Me and Toy Soldiers. I, of course being of the latter group (though I did watch Star Trek I'm not a trekkie) was intrigued and turned my focus away from the serious issue of global poverty and AIDS to examine the life of the now 30yo Ensign Wesley Crusher.

After a little looking around I peaked into his photo gallery and noticed a section called geocaching. I had never heard of it before but he was hiking in the mountains and I like to hike so I decided to learn more. Geocaching is described as a global scavenger hunt for people who use GPS. (It is actually found in 40 Blogger profiles.) When you log in, you can put in your exact position and locate nearby caches - usually hidden in some waterproof container - containing log books and other assorted trinkets of varying value. When you find one, you can feel free to take a trinket as your prize (as long as you leave something in return), jot a note in the book, and fill out your log online. Sometimes, you can find a "Travel Bug" which is an object with a coded tag that often has instructions on what to do with it. Some instruct you to do your part in helping the "TB" get a little closer to its destination - ie: if the TB needs to get to Alaska, you need to drop it off at a cache closer to Alaska than where you found it - and some simply act as vicarious voyagers like the garden gnome in Amelie.

There are even games associated with this sport. It is possible that you could find a cache with clues in it that will lead you on a hunt for either another clue or unpublished cache with a large prize waiting for you (assuming someone else hasn't gotten to it first). I've read that sums of money could be waiting or even a Jeep 4x4 with a contest that's going on. More likely than not - though, you never know what you'll find - you will locate a cache with some small trinkets or supplies for your journey. It's actually pretty fun.

I signed up and am now a geocacher. I even found a cache that lives just down the street from my apartment! It was simply a small magnetic box hidden on the back of a guardrail. The person who placed it meant it to be a small memorial for his friend who killed himself there 20 years ago. The only instructions were to sign your name in the log and say a prayer. It's located in a public place and you are asked to use stealth when finding it. As I searched online for others in the area I was somewhat surprised to find that there are dozens of these caches within a half hour of here.

It is reported on their website that there are 190,146 active caches in 217 countries! Some are hidden in fields, some are buried, some are located on cliff faces and you need to repel down to them, some are in parks or even in busy public places. There are even caches in Kyrgyzstan! There are helpful hints that accompany each listing letting you know how difficult the terrain is, what facilities are available, if there's parking, if it's kid friendly, if there's a view, and so on. They make it as informative as they can (without giving away the location) to help ensure safety and to promote the fun of the hunt. It's easy to take an afternoon to find a cache or two or plan a longer, multi-day trip to search for a number of caches in a more remote area.

I like the idea of having something active to do that's unique and different and combines my enjoyment of hiking and the excitement of the search. (Plus it's kind of fun to be a little covert about it too!) I'm amazed at how common these are and yet how unknown. Apparently, there are over 160 of them withing 10 miles of where I work!

Who knew?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Picture of the Day

I was looking around at a friend's friend's blog today and saw that she had a daily picture gallery. I love taking photographs yet I seem to only take them when they are work-related or when I travel. I want to start taking more so I decided that one of the things I'm going to do is post a "Picture of the Day" - hopefully every day or so - to help me take more pictures and hone my skills.

I probably won't post here whenever I upload the day's picture but I have put a link on the right that you can use to check it out. I will also try to keep my photo gallery up to date with the new "Pictures of the Day" category.

My preferred camera is currently on vacation in Nebraska and Colorado enjoying itself in the Rockies with my parents until next week so, in the meantime, I'll be posting some older ones. In the spirit of vacations, today's picture is a self-portrait I took while in London last March. I have tweaked it a bit in Photoshop to make it a little more interesting.


Sunday, August 07, 2005

A Time for Rest, A Time for Reflection, A Time for Courage

Even though it's been two weeks since I last attended a worship service and had an affiliation with a particular denomination, I have not yet begun to formally look for a new faith community for myself. I've done some online searching and some reading of various pieces of literature but I haven't yet taken that next step of visiting any congregations. Part of me feels that due to my level of involvement and my somewhat high profile in this conference of the UMC I need to take some time to decompress. I think, too, that it gives me a chance to reflect on this new religious situation that I am in without the affiliation that used to direct my previous identity. There is a case to be made, also, that the summer is a time when services are a little more atypical, guest speakers and musicians are not uncommon, and small groups tend to break. So, visiting for the first time now wouldn't present me with the clearest of pictures. And thus I wait.

One of the other things that makes me take some time is so my choice for someplace new isn't so much a reaction to the UMC as much as it is a progression of my beliefs. When I changed my major early in my freshman year from astrophysics to religion, my dad was concerned that I may have been running away from something because it was hard rather than toward something that I truly wanted. On one level I was running away, not just because it was hard, but because I realized I was good at it but I didn't enjoy it. But on another level I was running toward religion because it was then that I began a more formal search for God. I feel that way now too. It would be easy for my withdrawl to be seen as a reaction to the direction the UMC is heading or as a reaction to some of the toxic and antagonistic qualities of it. However, I see it more as running towards a more faithful expression of my beliefs and living into a more honest version of myself.

I am in a period of transition - yes, of my own choosing - which does, in fact, bring along with it a certain amount of anxiety for me. I don't feel that I am a courageous person; rather, I see myself as being fairly timid and indecisive in a lot of areas. I constantly analyze things to make sure I choose what is best and often second guess myself. My major life decisions of late are no exception. While I fully feel that my leaving the UMC was the best decision for me - that's why I struggled so long before leaving - I find myself continuing to weigh the pros and cons of the decision. The pros always win out without fail but I can never ignore the cons: dealing with all the questions, anxiety in business relationships, letting go of that sense of community that I am always looking for and living with the loneliness that follows, etc. The same goes for moving. My new place is so much better but the cons slip into my mind: longer commute, cost of gas, starting over in a new area, being farther away from my family and the familiar. But in the end, I find that I have something that I rarely feel as though I have: confindence in myself.

It takes more courage than I think I have to leave what I knew behind and step into the unknown and the uncertain, carrying the fear and doubt and loneliness that I do. I struggle a lot with loneliness. I struggle with the contradictions within myself: the desire for companionship and the comfort of being just me; the fear of being solitary and the fear of being a new member of a group. And the list goes on. I have heard from a number of people how much they support me and feel like I'm being courageous. It strengthens me to hear that but at the same time I find it hard to believe because I feel so empty and afraid. I am confident that I did what was right for myself and I know that it took courage to do it but my nerves are kicking in for what comes next. I've never liked being "the new kid" and it seems like everything in my life is going to be so new. It's exciting, it's great, I'm full of hope, and I'm scared to death.

With risk comes opportunity, with adventure comes discovery. I have taken the risk of doing a new thing for myself and have stepped out on this strange new adventure. I don't know what what will come or how it will be but I have to walk on with faith that the situations I face will build me up and the opportunities I find will fill me so that as I go I may discover who I am and who I am to be.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Random Silliness

I was looking around at a couple of live journals that some youth I work with keep and thought I'd have a little fun with some of the fill-in things that they have.

Type in "(your name) is" into Google and post the 5 best results:

  1. Jason is Two years old!
  2. Jason is awake, killing comely young students as Rowan warns everybody
  3. Jason is the perfect person
  4. Jason is just that strong.
  5. Jason is also available to conduct seminars on True Love and Relationships

Monday, August 01, 2005

An Empty Pen

I'm not sure what to write, though I feel the need to. So often I get the urge to put down my thoughts on this or that but I almost never know quite what to say. It's as though I have a blank page in front of me and my pen in my hand, ready to go, yet I am out of ink, I am out of that which forms the words, that which makes the ideas pass from my mind to you.

So far, with a couple of exceptions, I've written very little about politics or things going on in the world. Instead of discussing my views on the Supreme Court or how much of an idiot I think Bush is or even a commentary on the deep impact The Simpsons has on modern society, I have written about me. I know there are more important things going on out there, larger issues that concern local, state, national and international affairs, really I do. But sometimes I think it's easy to talk about those things. Even though our personal opinions can run very deep and often connect with a very personal part of who we are, adding to the ultimacy and immediacy of the issue, it's easy to talk about things that happen outside of our Selves. It's easy because there are sides to take, support to draw on, and often somewhere beneath the complexities we feel that there is a "right" and a "wrong."

For years I've kept a journal of my thoughts, my joys, my struggles. For a time in college I was part of a small group that would gather once a week to share our journals with each other. By opening ourselves up to that level of vulnerability we became very close. It is in this group that I first felt comfortable expressing who I really am. And, I suppose, it is why when I write I tend to focus on what's going on on the inside. It's harder to talk about those things. There's rarely a clear-cut side to anything, rarely a "right" or "wrong" conclusion. And everything is intricately complex.

There was a time when I really felt like I knew who I was. Time happened and I found myself changing - through education, through life experience, through interactions - and my picture of who I was began to evolve. As more time passed I began to feel as though I knew this newer version of myself, until the next time the world around me changed and I adapted. You see, deep down there are some things that make me who I am that won't change all that much. But as time goes on and the shifting environs of my life reveal and conceal themselves I am constantly rediscovering who I am and how I will live in response to it all.

I guess I did have something to say after all...

Not Quite Home

So far, I’ve lived in my new apartment for about 2.5 weeks. Of that, I’ve had all of my possessions transplanted to this new location for just over one week. So, one might say that the transition is complete; after all, the “moving” part is over. I’m not sure I would entirely agree with that right now.

You see, at this point, it is true that everything I own has been safely carried from the old to the new and most things are settled into their places. However, to say that the move is complete isn’t quite accurate because, to me, “complete” happens when I move from normal to home. Despite claims to the contrary, I feel like I’m in a place that is normal. During the move, as I slowly emptied one apartment and as I slowly filled another, I felt like I was without a “home.” What was my home was slipping away with each box that was packed. The opposite would seem to be true as each box was unpacked, right?

As I left the old place and turned in the keys, each day in the new began to feel more and more comfortable. It became normal for me to get up at 7:30 (TOO EARLY!!!) and drive the 20mins to work each morning and then drive the 20mins back at the end of the day. It is now normal for me to see the surroundings I do when I wake up in the mornings instead of the familiar setting I was once accustomed to. But I’m not sure that it’s home quite yet. But it will come in time as I settle into the new, as I get a dog, and as I share my home with others.

That’s a lot like how I’d been feeling in the church – particularly over the past couple of years. It was normal for me to be involved at such a level as I had been. It was normal for me to go to church each week – well, maybe a little more abnormal given my work schedule. It was normal to see me at events. And it was normal that I would be seen as a leader with a future within the denomination. But it wasn’t home. Rather than the progression from normal to home that I look forward to with my new apartment, the transition I experienced in the church was from home to normal. (And, eventually, to estranged.)

I now live with a new normal. It is the norm of constant change. It is the norm of having everything up in the air. It’s a bit unsettling. A bit scary even. But it’s also rather exciting. Everything is open. Anything can happen. And I find that intriguing.