settling, as they say

We've been busy covering the strawberry rows with straw, the very long strawberry rows, and there's lots of them. Then there was an ice storm yesterday that knocked out our internet access for most of the day.

But we were able to have one meeting this week about a place for us to move and have retreats, and it went well. And hopefully at the church meeting next Monday we'll get a decision. So we may be able to start setting up house in a little over a week.

I find I'm nervous about it. Maybe because it seems like a big step, and a lot to take on with no stable source of income (and no furniture, not even a bed). But I'm beginning to think there's more to it for me. Yesterday in my prayers I came to psalm 105 again. It was the psalm "given" to us last year when we thought we had found a home in Virginia. About the Hebrews' pilgrimage and their arrival in the promised land. It seemed appropriate at the time, but then we were bitterly disappointed. Now it seems more likely that we will be able to live and work and join the community here long term. Settle down, as they say. Maybe that's what makes me nervous.

I've spoken and written so many times about the importance of being "strangers and exiles" (especially here, but also much earlier here). I remember often repeating how Israel's most faithful times were when they were exiles and pilgrims, and how they fell away from God when they became settled and gathered wealth and security around them. This same effect also appears in the history of most every religious congregation or organization. So I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the thought of moving in here leaves me feeling a bit on edge.

In the way we've envisioned our life here, there are some things that may help prevent us from becoming too settled. We won't own the place we live in, or store up savings or property, and our only income will be donations, which is far from stable or secure. Our home will also be intentionally set aside as a place of regular hospitality. I know that's not enough in itself, but it should help. We'll have to be continually vigilant and dependent on God to preserve us from settling.

I like the point in one of those old entries about Jesus “pitching his tent” among us (Jn 1:14, literally translated). Maybe that image will be helpful for me.