Our bloggers are talking about the experience of being displaced, moved out of the familiar into something new. Life moves us into new places and routines, or God can call us into a holy displacement. It’s a mystery gift that involves discomfort as we move toward something different. Other times it’s just painful.
As relationships and routines change, aging carries a curious burden of loneliness, Diana Trautwein is finding. She recalls urging her parents to move out of their home, and now she’s seeing the spiritual weight of that kind of change. “I discover, on an almost daily basis, that the inevitable effects of time and life are sometimes painful and humiliating and not particularly fun to watch. And I get that, too. But still . . . it feels lonely from time to time, out here on the doorstep of eternity.” There are still things to discover, she’s finding. “In the meantime, I am trying to practice saying ‘yes’ to whatever life remains to me. My father’s choices shut him off from us. Part of that was disease driven, but part of it was his lifelong pattern of choosing isolation when things got difficult. I don’t want to do that. I’d like to dance myself off the cliff, if at all possible, so I’m trying to figure out what that might look like in this aging body, with this aging brain.”
In this current political climate, Michelle Torigan is longing us for us to move, finally, out of the idea that women’s bodies and lives matter less than men’s. “We are women. We deserve to walk at night or go to parties or hang out in social clubs or anything else without having to worry about being raped. We deserve to go to work without being harassed. We deserve to go to doctors and be believed because we know something isn’t right with our bodies. We are not disposable, and we are fully human. When will the powers-that-be in America and across the world believe us?”
With her kitchen under repair, Kristin Berkey-Abbott is feeling her kinship with people who are homeless, displaced by Hurricane Florence or still recovering from Maria a year ago. As her church hosts the local rotating overnight shelter, she reflects, “families come to the church for an evening meal and to sleep the night. Church members sleep there too, just so that everyone feels safe. This week, between two families, there are 7 children, all of them under the age of 4, except for an 8 year old. I went over after work Tuesday night. I changed out of my work clothes and helped get the kids fed, and then we did some reading together…I envisioned that I would read and all the kids would gather round. Nope. But the bright girl who was only 3 years old “read” to me–she looked at the pictures and made up a story, with book after book. It was a delightful, though exhausting, way to spend an evening. I know that I am lucky–I have a house to go home to, even if it’s under reconstruction. If I need a quiet evening, I can plan it. I can’t imagine being a single mom in charge of 4 small children with no home.”
We need to be displaced out of the familiar to take in the expansiveness of God, says Wil Gafney, who confesses, “It’s the tax collectors who mess me up. They are not on my politically correct marginalized team. But Jesus still rolls with them, finding God’s presence in each one. The diversity of his companions, the diversity of humanity and the human condition are all markers for the expansiveness of God’s nature and love. He learned that love from both his mamas. Mama Mary taught him a love that put puts one’s vey body on the line for the beloved and Mother Wisdom taught him to find his beloveds in the streets and welcome them home.”
Where are you feeling displaced these days? Where do you find God moving you out of your routine into a new chapter? Where is the change feeling fruitful, for you? And where are changes bringing worry or loss, for you? As we pray for all who have been buffeted by Florence and Maria and Mangkhut and now Ompong, we know there are all kinds of displacement — physical, spiritual, emotional and mental. We would love to hear your experience, in the comments section below.
Mary Austin is the pastor of Westminster Church of Detroit, a diverse Presbyterian Church. She blogs from time to time at Stained Glass in the City.
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