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taking root…

We’re thinking about moving again. Our Nashville house is on the market and if that sells soon enough there’s a chance we’ll be able to buy a house in Chicago. It’s a good move, a positive move but it’s a move nonetheless. It strikes me that it was just about this time last year that we came to the decision that we’d finally be moving to Chicago from Nashville. It strikes me also that a year before that we were moving from our rural house in Franklin, TN to the East Nashville neighborhood chanting “civilization at last!”

As I sit here considering the idea of what kind of place we’ll buy, which neighborhood in Chicago we’ll target and how much more stuff we’ve accumulated in just one year I am thinking about my garden back in Nashville and my rose bushes in Franklin. That first planting year things are sparse for me. Because I’m not terribly accomplished in gardening and because I don’t have infinite funds to fill in all the spots that need filling in an area the work I did in my yards there we just getting rooted, just starting to sprout, just bearing fruit, finding bloom and then we moved.

Gardens take time, more than just one season, maybe more than two. It often feels that just when we get our groove, when we finally start to get rooted that we are picking up and moving somewhere new. I told Dave today that I think we may be modern gypsies. We ought to get a wagon and just travel around the country maybe.

Perhaps I always have one emotional bag packed, you know, just in case I have to move. It might be the reason I’m so quick to drop the ball on making plans or following up.  It might be the reason I try not to make eye contact with people at church, even after being there for the last 7 or 8 months. I have to be ready to bolt, no sense in leaving myself unpacked and strewn all over the room.

Dave and I have often lamented the lack of “tribe” in our lives. We do have long-term friends but not “everyday” friends. We are the people who rush in after being absent a long time and pick up where we left off, then rush out again. There is some security in knowing that we have that kind of deep connection with a group of people and yet there is some real grief in us that we’re not able to connect on a day-to-day basis. In choosing a neighborhood in Chicago we revisited this again, should we move nearer to our old friends? Should we choose a more “neighborhood” feel and hope we’ll have good neighbors? Should we choose a place near people we’d LIKE to have as everyday friends?

It does not surprise me at all that the actual “buildings” we find that fit our artistic and aesthetic needs are nowhere near people we know, people we’d like to know or well, people in general. We tend to move toward urban or industrial spaces, spaces that traditionally don’t fit with “family.” The question becomes, “CAN we take root in the concrete?”

And then the jump comes here, the idea of “church shopping” comes to mind, this idea that Dave and I employed for a while there, trying to find a place that fit us, trying to find a tribe that fit us, that kept us engaged and “growing.” And then I remember the day we decided not to do that anymore, we decided that we’d wait for the community to surface, wait for the “place” we needed to be. Orthodoxy did not fit us, it did not even try to fit us. I’m too Liberal, too modern, too outspoken, too tired to stand for an hour and change. My kids are too loud, too rambunctious, too disobedient, too unkempt. We are unlikely to conform to the societal standard, we rail against it. We don’t want to change ourselves to “fit” someplace. We want to be in the building in the middle of the concrete jungle, we want people to come to us, to put their hands on our exposed brick walls and marvel at how counter cultural we are, how much we live outside the box of normal “family” life.

We want to be who we are.

And yet we desperately want to be accepted and loved, even so.

There is a fenced lot near our apartment, left alone for a long time, no buildings, no debris, untended and empty, but not completely empty. In between the cracks in the old concrete there are tall tufts of green. Along the fence there are wildflowers growing as if some unseen hand has scattered some seed there, hopeful and waiting. It is no manicured lawn or professionally landscaped garden but it is beautiful, profoundly beautiful. The nature pushes through the cement, deep into the earth below. The roots are strong, digging up the cold, abandoned surface, pressing into the soil it knows exists, the soil that welcomes the seed, accepts it, envelops it and teaches it to be more than merely a seed.