Today is the third in a December and January series on Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. Following Sarah Arthur‘s new book, Light Upon Light (which I can’t recommend highly enough), this third week looks at the theme “Sojourners in the Land.” You can find week one and week two here. Check back each Saturday to see what’s new, and in the meantime, enter in and enjoy!
Another text popped up last night: What’s your address? Did you move again? I can’t remember…
And I’m like, I GET YOU. I can’t wait to see your crew of smiling, effervescent faces in my mailbox, but I understand why you’d be asking me that question, again.
Because here’s the truth: I’ve not lived in the same place for more than two years since I was 18 years old – and y’all, I ain’t no spring chicken.
The upside is that I’ve become a master at packing and unpacking, a guru at visualizing a space and revamping living quarters appropriately, and an expert at constantly schlepping through stuff for the weekly Goodwill drop-off.
Martha Stewart would be so proud.
The downside, though, is obvious: I hate moving. Although I’ve moved past enlisting friends and family to join in for “Free pizza and beer!” (because let’s be honest, that charm begins its rapid descent after or around the age of 25), I’m done sifting and sorting, filling and wadding and sorting our junk into cardboard boxes.
But I’ve accepted that, for whatever reason, this has been a part of my story, the marking point that’s kept me from getting too comfortable, from taking home for granted. It’s helped me to understand what it means to be The New Girl, to start over in a neighborhood where you don’t know the back roads and you’ve yet to run into that friendly face in the grocery store.
It’s also helped me to understand what it means to be a sojourner, to be someone who resides temporarily in one place. Because I, too, am a sojourner. I wait for my final place, and I wait to hunker down and lay down roots. I wait to make house our home, as I wait for home.
Certainly, this idea of sojourning is not new to the liturgical season of Advent. Mary and Joseph, en route to parenthood, sojourned as they looked for a place to lay their heads. The magi who practiced astrology – those three “wise men” who really did believe in signs and wonders, in a heavenly message communicated through the stars – were said to have trekked nearly a thousand miles in search of the baby boy. Likewise, those dirty, stinky shepherds tending sheep in fields nearby, had to pick up their skirts and wander through the desert a few hundred yards at least.
And this doesn’t even begin to touch the greater idea of a wandering nation, a symbol of the Jewish people who have been cast out, ever yearning for home. (Nor, for our purposes, does it begin to touch the bigger spiritual idea of one’s final eternal home, as well).
Because no matter where or how or why you sojourn, you search. You search and you seek and you, too, yearn for a place to lay your head. You sit by the rivers of Babylon and you remember Zion. You wait and wonder how long… how long… how long… you’re to sing this song.
But then, perhaps because you’ve embraced this whole notion of sojourning as a part of your story, you put one foot in front of the other. Step by step, you begin to believe that that is enough, that “The earth is enough and the air is enough/ For our wonder and our war…”* You begin to dot your words with the occasional exclamation point because you trust in the journey, in the sojourn, in the temporary nature of it all.
Perhaps your mouth even whispers these ancient words:
“Lead, Kindly Light, amid the circling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home –
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene, – one step enough for me.”*
So darling, let’s be sojourners.
What about you? Are you a sojourner? How or where or why did that happen?
* = “The House of Christmas” by G.K. Chesterton
** = a prayer from John Henry, Cardinal Newman0