As most of you know earlier this year, just before Easter, Debbie and I made a semi-sudden decision to leave our home and minstry in the Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim). It was primarily motivated but our weariness from and desire to protect our two small children’s health issues. The health issues were related to long-term exposure to toxic mold. That and the presence of several other mitigating factors forced us to confront the fact that, put bluntly, and pretty negatively, you can only polish the brass on a sinking ship for so long…
So the questions become “How have you all been doing since?” “What have you been doing since?” “Where are you living now?”
These are fair questions and they demand answers. Let me see if i can try to answer them to some level of satisfaction.
One word describes our experience since our sudden departure that lead also to loss of home, income, and livelihood: WILDERNESS.
Our leaving the Canyon was a kind of exodus (it happened in the middle of the night leaving nearly all our things behind) after which we were immediately lead into our own wilderness experience (now going on 6 mos of no home and no work). It has been a going from one place to the next wherever we can stay.
We just spent the last four months living with another family (in N. Phoenix) in their home in an extra room they had with its own bathroom. Though it was very gracious of them and was neither an ideal situation nor without its challenges (Two differnt families with two differen ways; We got rejected from every job we applied and or were interviewd for, which at one point lead to my having an anxiety attack, often confused with heart attacks, that lasted several days, and me having my first ever EKG) the time came for us to move on. We are now in a house by ourselves in south Phoenix through someone at the Church we’ve been attending. Can’t say how long we’ll be here. We like it so far but still, it is not home for us, yet.
The Psalms often give voice to the many and varied situations we face in life. I have learned this over time but found it most pogiently expressed in the works of Eugene Peterson. There are many Psalms that have wilderness themes or that allude to the people of Israel’s time in the wilderness thatcan give voice to our own wilderness experiences. One pertinet Psalm that has significance for us is a portion of 107th Psalm, which seems to be in a string of Psalms reflection on the exodus and wilderness experience.. It reads in part:
Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story –
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
those he gathered from the lands,
from east and west, from north and south.
Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle.
They were hungary and thirsty,
and their lives ebbedaway.
Then theycried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way
to a city where they could settle.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for humankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things. (TNIV)
Though we are in a city, we are still waiting for a sense of being able to settle and and have a place to call “home.” We have had a sense of wandering but I suppose as Tolkien writes “not all who wander are lost”? We fight against despair and and continue to trust that hope will not disappoint, that God will deliver us and that all will indeed be well in the end. I miss my books and having a functiong computer with Bibleworks on it (I wrote this post and the last several from my kindle). I don’t know how much longer our wilderness experience will last. I hope not much longer.
We know not what the future holds though we press on.