We used to call my grandmother the “Scottish Gypsy.” To those in the UK, you probably don’t think that’s endearing, in our family it was high praise. Born in Michigan, she was one of the first female Marines a nurse on the east coast during the war. After she got married, to a rail of a man in stature only, in heart and character he was a hero. They moved to Minnesota with a big family. Time went on and her husband died when their youngest of eight was still at home, and not too long after they were in Arizona. Over the next few decades, she would be all over the USA, Japan a few times, and Cuba. She was a traveling women, and for her era, and many others, she was a wonderer.
That rubbed off on me; flying on planes since I was tiny; multiple times to California, Arizona, Florida, then DC, Italy, Greece. All before I was 16. For a midwest kid, son of a firefighter and nurse, lets just say I was privileged. I got used to movement, not to mention every time my grandma was around she watched me while my parents worked, told me stories of her travels and planted deep in me a curiosity that knows no bounds.
Now here I am, I’ve lived in Duluth for 12 almost 13 years. All of my adult life spent in this beautiful city. And now we sense this calling to go out. To uproot, and follow Jesus. I am reminded of some things he said while he was here on earth, “ ‘Who is my mother? Who are my brothers and sisters?’ And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’”
There is this intensity in those words of Jesus that wakes me up. He has a direct way of reordering priorities. In his culture there wasn’t really anything more important than family. Who you were was defined by where you came from, the roots, the family, the name, occupation, reputation. And here he is turning upside down their idea of priorities. He reordered it around His Father in heaven, rooted in Him.
He’s saying do you know where you should get your identity, not from your family, not from the good or bad reputation of those before or after you. Things which will not last, they will waste away and die, never to be remembered. But you should get it from God. He’s the one who made you, the inventor knows what his invention is all about.
So again, here we are, uprooting, getting ready to leave. Me the little wannabe wonderer, starting to realize I’ve grown roots here. I love these people, I love this place, my friends and family, these memories and experiences. I spent four days going through the K-12 assignments of my youth keeping and throwing away mounds of paper, pictures from my entire 31 years on this planet, tossing and keeping. I got six boxes, six freaking boxes, down to one. Everest I tell you, into thin air.
All that time I am asking Jesus, why is this so hard to let go of stuff, it’s just stuff, there is no luggage rack on a hearse! And then I got this sense from Jesus, “You don’t want to let go, because you’re not sure if you’ll remember, and if you don’t remember where you came from, then who are you? But Michael, I made you, I know who you are, and whether you remember or not, whether anyone remembers or not, I will know, forever I will know you.” And I realized again, that my priorities needed pruning.
And here we are right back at the beginning. My grandma, she’s got Alzheimer’s and dementia. The one who carried the stories, the one who traveled. She doesn’t remember any of it. She doesn’t know. But I know. And when I am done knowing, there will be One who will always know. She will always be remembered. With or without me.
So this leaving thing, is never really an ending, though the feelings need to be felt, they are real, and we need to live in reality. Friends with reality. You see rootedness is useless if it isn’t first in reality. Things shift, change, we need to adapt, but in the end I think we need to be still, and realize even if for a moment, our roots have a chance to be in eternal things. Not money, fame not even family or security. Which are all good things, seriously I love them, yet at the end of the day the only roots that last are set firmly in the only thing that gives life.
My identity, my roots must be in something, someone, who is the same in Minnesota or in England, in life or in death, in good or bad. The only thing I have is Jesus. It is not changed, it is not moved. It is there I find the ability to say who I am.
I am loved by Him.
– that we sell everything with our estate/garage sale and that our car sells soon
– that god provides for our finances while we are in between jobs
– Gods comfort for us and others during this transition
– we are raising some finances for our landing in England between visa costs, health care surcharges, deposits and unexpected things.