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small town…

I had an interesting and somewhat surprising (to me at least) feeling while I attended Wild Goose Festival in NC last month. Wild Goose is an “emergent” music and arts festival some friends of mine have helped put together. I went to teach some DoxaSoma sessions. Many of my friends spoke or played there as well. I was very excited to go and see the fruit of what I knew firsthand was a labor of love for a large number of people.

Once there, what was striking to me was this overwhelming feeling of detachment I held. It wasn’t a withholding of care or love or interest…just a detachment from the spinning around “religion,” the injury people carried from past experience, the questions about where the church was headed, how to make it “relevant.”

For the first time in a long while I felt this sense of anchoring. It wasn’t that I didn’t agree with the issues presented or feel some urgency about them. I just didn’t feel stirred up about it. I felt outside of it all, set apart somehow- not superior or judging, but rooted in some other place…and I think that’s the influence of Orthodoxy from this past year.

And I felt some sadness then…as if I was visiting a town I used to live in but have no desire to move back to. I still love the people I know there a whole lot and yet I can’t live in that place anymore. My home is somewhere else.

When I was in my 20’s and had lived in Chicago for a few years, an old friend came to visit me from my hometown. I was very excited to show her the sights, to show off my new home. She was a good sport and let me drag her all over the city on the El. I remember being on the train, thinking, “This is GREAT! She is going to love this!” and then seeing her face reflect her lack of excitement, her lack of “being impressed” and maybe I detected even a little bit of distaste for the experience.

When I asked her about it all later she told me that she just didn’t care for the big city. She liked her little town. She was glad I was happy and she could see how much I loved it there but that it wasn’t her thing.

I think I was quick to write her off as “small town” and judgmental. I regret that now. I realize that it was me who was judging, it was me who was unable to hear her and accept her. I wish I’d been mature enough to understand that “one size” so rarely “fits all” in most aspects of life.

The real test for me is whether I’m able to remain in that place of anchoring because really what I want most is to be able to love every person who crosses my path and to love them well whether we agree or not, to not let my boat be tossed by the winds as it has been for the last 10 or so years of my spiritual life.