A few thoughts on leaving home

By Missy Morain

I sold my house in Iowa last week. It was my dream house, a 1917 arts and crafts bungalow, with hard wood floors and lots of natural light. I loved the house. I could even hug it by wrapping my arms around a pillar in the living room and found myself doing that more than I will ever admit. It was a space in which I felt perfectly safe and sane. In selling it I let go of the largest physical tie to the state that was home to me for the first thirty years of my life.

It had to be done. I have lived in Washington, DC for eighteen months and there is no sign that I am moving back to Iowa in the near future. That didn’t in any way make it easier for me. So many parts of me want to go back to the place that makes sense to me and yet at this point in my life I know that is not my path. It is not where God is calling me to be.

Call is a funny thing. I still haven’t figured out how you are sure that the Holy Spirit is calling and when she is not. It makes me wonder about the disciples and their call to follow Jesus. How did they know that it was the right thing to do? Did they weigh the pros and the cons? Did they follow their gut? Was it a combination of the two? Did they think about it at all? The Gospel of Mark says that Simon, Andrew, James and John just left their nets and followed. When I got the call of a job offer at the Cathedral College I did not just drop my nets and follow. I tied up loose ends, bought a condo to live in, packed most of my worldly belongings, got in my car with my pets and drove 1000 miles. Yet I left huge chunks of me behind, physically, mentally and emotionally.

Maybe there is a lesson for me in those Gospel stories (shocking I know), a lesson in how to leave a place taking what I need with me but leaving the other odds and ends behind. The Gospels don’t provide a specific list of what the disciples took with them or what they left behind (other than the nets), but I can take some educated guesses. I imagine that they disciples brought the clothes on their backs and the sandals on their feet while leaving most other tangible items behind. They brought with them their hearts, souls and minds; their questions and their searching for understanding. They took the knowledge of the love of their friends and family and their love of God.

I brought lots of things with me to DC but feel as though I left behind the feeling of safety and certainty in my world. Safety and certainty wasn’t what Jesus assured the disciples they would have while traveling. What the disciples did have to develop was a sense of trust in Jesus and their ministry. What I am working on developing is a trust in my ability to listen to and hear the call from the Holy Spirit. I cannot be sure of what she is saying to the larger world but I have to work on shutting up my inner critic long enough to listen to where the Holy Spirit is telling me to go. I am still going to search for my safe places in the world but those spaces cannot be my center, instead they will be the lucky places that I discover to refresh my soul and to remind me of what the world can be, if only I can listen quietly enough.

Missy Morain, Program Manager for the Cathedral College’s Center for Christian Formation at Washington National Cathedral, is keeper of the blog Episcopal Princess. She is on the board of directors of the National Association for Episcopal Christian Education Directors.

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