A Sojourner Like my Fathers

Lately, I feel very lost. Not spiritually lost, mind you, nor ignorant of possible forward directions. I feel lost as in unmoored, lacking a home; a wanderer and an alien in a land to which I do not belong.

So much has changed in the past four years; and so much has accumulated on my mind. About four years ago, I was preparing to graduate from my Christian university. I had already been blessed with a job offer. Since then, I’ve experienced three different schools in two different countries, each with a very different model of education. To illustrate this, at one of my schools placed great stress on traditional texts and pedagogy, another is rolling out a redesigned curriculum designed to replace traditional educational models, and another tried to reimagine school from the ground up. Each system thinks that it has the best model of education, and each function in a way that is diametrically opposed to the other. Those models clank around in my head, demanding my attention and obedience.

I have attended four different Christian communities over those four years as well; and in the process gone from being an evangelical Protestant to a traditionally minded Catholic. My current and prior Catholic parishes were radically different in the externals and in the way people spoke. My identity always seems to be neither where I am now or where I was but always somewhere in between.

I have met a plethora of persons to whom I am indebted throughout these many transitions. Every time I move, my wife and I experience the generosity and welcome of  people whom we may not keep in touch with. I often remember that I have not written so and so in such a long time; yet they did me this great kindness and I remember it fondly. Among these kindnesses are people who have given my wife and I money, mentored us spiritually, offered us friendship and support and provided seemingly small gestures of love when it was most needful. I still rarely sit down to actually type out a message.

I have become a dad in the intervening years; a great blessing, and a great change. Now my head is no longer filled with possibilities, but responsibilities. My second last move I was ambitious, taking a low salary in order to be able to pursue my dreams of higher education, closeness to family and learn an intriguing pedagogical model. Now I have to think about supporting my wife and daughter, and providing for the future. I can no longer be a dreamer; I need to focus on stability.

Though I am tempted to see only a single pair of footprints in the sand when I look back, when I look past my desires, I see two.

Through these changes, the one constant is Christ. In every weary moment, in every tear, in every parting, in every new beginning, He is there. Christ in my schools; Christ in my friendships; Christ reaching through communities and parishes; Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ with me. I am lost; but His voice calls me. I am weary, but His hand holds mine. I am a debtor; but He is sufficient. My fragile dreams may fade, but His Kingdom lies before me. I am weak; He is strong. I am but a shadow; He is the Light.

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