I’ve often wanted to ask people how they view the world. It’s an odd question to ask. It’s an even odder question to answer. As I’ve thought about asking that question, I’ve started to think through how I would answer. My answer is multifaceted, one part of it, I think, ties into why I’ve named my blog “The Nomad.” I wanted to take some time to illustrate how it is that I see the world and how it ties into what I have been up to as of late.
I often close my eyes when I’m stressed, or have been really busy, and think about specific places I’ve been in my life. It’s like going through a personal photo album that’s infinitely more vivid having my memories tied to deep emotions and enriching sensations. Although I do retreat back into those memories for some sort of solace from stressors, it is not to escape but rather to find a sense of pleasure and a spirit of thankfulness in order to continue the work that has been placed upon me. These memories are often set in wild places like on the Ocoee river in the mountains of Tennessee, on Mount Currahee in North Georgia, or high in the Andes Mountains, southwest of Cusco. They can also often be in busy city streets like on the Via Delarosa in the Old City of Jerusalem, near the Rua Augusta Arch in Lisbon, Portugal, or on a bridge over a canal in Amsterdam. So with the spirit of a nomad, I’ve been blessed to be able to wander in some wild and civil places. Which in the end, describes how I see the world. We are all wanderers, whether in the wilderness or in the midst of the most civilized places of the world.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about one particular memory of a rafting trip down the Ocoee River on a summer day. The conditions were favorable for rafting that day; the sun was out with clear blue skies, which made the chilly water extremely refreshing when it splashed on us going down rapids. The trees were a deep green, a green that only the summer heat and rain can produce, and the rolling foothills of the Smokey Mountains populated the wild landscape. I had laughed a lot seeing my campers fall out of the raft, all the while feeling a sense of danger from the perilous rushing water that traps anyone against a rock or in a hole or rapid if given the chance. These feelings of glee and peril captured me at one moment and then fled immediately while going around a bend of the river. There was a giant face of a cliff baring itself to us as we turned a corner. I had a sense of awe at the sight of a cliff that stood high and wild with brush dangling precariously on ledges and moss covering certain sections of the face dripping with moisture from the earth behind it. The sun was not directly on it so it gave the face a mysterious, old, and ominous look to it as it looked down upon us, this single raft full of young human beings oblivious to all it has seen in its life time.
This memory has been with me recently mainly because I’m getting back into the routine of class and going to chapel and I would love the chance to unwind by going down a river. It doesn’t help that the weather here in Wisconsin is beautiful. Furthermore, I’ve thought about this memory because it makes me feel small, which is a freeing feeling. I think about that moment of seeing the cliff, hearing the rushing river, the warmth of the air, the smell of the water, and the sense of pleasure from trying to stay alive. These feelings remind me of how fleeting life is, that we’re to take pleasure in the twists and turns of life, and to give ourselves to our creator. In seeking to lose our life, we find it.
I realize I can make the best of every situation and acknowledge that some things aren’t able to be fought (much like the currents of a river). Going along with unpredictable currents sometimes brings you to unknown but breathtaking places. So whether we tend toward wild or civil places, we all end up in places we had never thought we would be.
I never thought I’d be getting a Masters of Divinity at a neat, semi-monastic community in Wisconsin. I never thought I’d be on track to become an Anglican priest. However, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve met so many cool people along my path and have learned some really interesting lessons. Most of all, I’ve learned more about the Creator of the Universe who watches over the wanders of this world. He knows and cares for all, and I want to be the same with all who I come across either in the wilderness or in the city.