26 July 2019 - Deerfield, Kansas
“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage…
You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:6,11)
My entire world is expanding while I am on this walk. My knowledge of American history, various occupations and jobs (today I rode in a combine for the first time, and Jacob, who is 17, was at the controls!), landscapes, and rivers is only the beginning of that expansion. I’m taking in folks’ life stories - at least parts of them - on a daily basis. I’m hearing what they love about their hometown or city, how they met their spouses, how they heard the Spirit of God “speak” to them at key moments, and what they see as the deep blessings and the really hard times that they have experienced. But it’s even more than that.
As I make this trek, I am learning how to receive in ways that I never allowed myself to receive before. I am feeling lots of big emotions (I’ve written about that in some earlier blogs). By being away from home for so long, I am gaining an even greater appreciation for Julia, for our home, and for the daily rituals that we created there. I have widened my bed experience, too! I have slept on huge king beds, a glider bed, several day beds, hard beds, medium beds, soft beds, a bed in an RV, beds in cabins, a mattress on the floor, and, of course, on my own mattress pad in my tent.
I have stayed with people of different races, different faiths or no particular faith, people affiliated with different political parties, young people with young children, single people with no children, and older people who are great-grandparents.
What I notice is that as I expand, there is more room for everything - more room for listening, asking, storytelling, receiving, giving, praying, wondering, crying, yelling, singing, thanking, stopping, re-starting, meeting, greeting, and trying out different beds!
And this might be the key point: As I expand, by God’s grace, there is more room for a number of these things to be happening simultaneously. For example, I can be missing Julia and home like crazy AND feeling incredibly grateful to God and to those who are helping me AND yelling at an aggressive dog AND asking a couple how they met AND praying for protection AND asking Jacob how a combine works… all in a relatively short amount of time and space.
It’s not a dualistic either/or world. It is an expanding this and this and that and that and - oh, yes, that too! - world.
When we are young, many of us define ourselves by who is in our group and who is not in it. As we grow and become more welcoming of all that God has to offer us, we can “let out our stakes,” if you will, and enlarge our campsite. We don’t need to define ourselves so narrowly as just “my family” or “my town” or "my church” or “my party” or “my country” or even “my faith.” There is room for all of us. There is a new perspective where we see everyone as a brother or a sister. We discover our unity - not uniformity, but unity - our Oneness in God.
God is with us no matter where we are in our spiritual maturity and development, of course. But as we grow and allow God to widen or circle - our encampment - the bigger our life becomes. Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when he said he came to bring us life, and life in abundance. (John 10:10) Jesus came not to bring us a small, narrowly-defined life, but a great big life that has room for everything and everyone!
That’s the kind of life I am seeking. And that’s the kind of life I am discovering on this walk across the United States. God is showing me the “path of life.” And in God’s presence there is “fullness of joy.” Thanks be to God!