or, lindsey travels forever to every possible lugar
Let's talk about place for a moment.
Place is, unlike a lot of Important Things, not something we talk about enough. You are not required to take a class on Place in most universities to graduate, nor even in some high schools. It is regarded as secondary, a sort of by-product that is mentioned in history class primarily as an indicator of human interactions and how possible it is for one country to go to war with another, depending on things like distance and geographical barriers. But there is so much more to place than that. I've been reading a collection of essays by Wendell Berry called Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community, where he talks a lot about the importance of place, and I've been traveling a ton, and it's gotten me to thinking.
I arrived in Lima the 20th of May - a Saturday. I lived in a hotel, on my own in Jesús Maria until the following Tuesday, when I was sent to Carapongo, a district in Lima that two or three months ago was hit with very severe flooding and mudslides. I stayed there until Saturday, returned to Jesús Maria to spend the night with a family from Paz, left the next Sunday morning for the airport to take an hour and a half flight to Tarapoto, where I was picked up (by a man named Karol) and then driven two hours to Moyobamba. I stayed in Moyo until noon the following Sunday, when I was dropped off at the carport to catch a car to ride the two hours back to Tarapoto to catch my 3:55 to Lima, where I was retrieved and then delivered to yet a different house in a different neighborhood. I have been asked by multiple different people on multiple different occasions how long I will be in Lima and where I will be going next, and only just this afternoon discovered any sort of answer to these questions - I will be staying here for the next two weeks, and after that I am going to Ayacucho. I think. I might be staying a longer time. I might be staying a shorter time
One reason I came to Peru this summer is that I wanted to know what it is to be the stranger. As Christians we are called to be strangers in a foreign land, because this is not our final home and the world is not all there is, and we are to look forward to what is to come. I wanted to learn what it is to be in a foreign land, to be in a culture that is not your own that you do not know, to live and learn and be dependent and humble and open and absorb all my young mind (because, I am learning, I am truly very young still) can. Jesus, after all, lived as a stranger for much of His life - in Egypt, in Nazareth of Galilee... And all this I am experiencing to an overwhelmingly satisfying degree.
Something I had not before considered, however, was how being a stranger corresponds to with transience.
"The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head." Luke 9:58
Because you see, in order to be a stranger you must be transient. I'd never thought about this much, if ever, but these past couple weeks I have. Because every time I go to leave a place, I want to stay. I wanted to stay in Carapongo because despite the tragedy, despite the fact that the people have nothing there, they are still people and they still have their dignity and their pride and their humanity and that is incredibly beautiful. I also wanted to stay because, even though nobody spoke English and my Spanish is broken at best, even though I was staying in an apartment by myself, even though everything was dusty and utterly, utterly foreign and I did not understand anything and felt useless and helpless and lost like a child, I wanted to stay there and be known. I wanted to put down roots and get to know my host family who lived in the apartment down from me and the wise wise passionate women and men who worked at the temporary office with Paz and the volunteer who showed me around my first night, and I wanted to go to church and find a community and know it and have it know me.
I hated to leave.
I wanted to stay in Moyobamba because it is perhaps one of the most beautiful, most verdant places I have ever seen, and the work that Paz is doing there with the niños sordos and the indigenous population is incredible and important, and even though I hate humidity and mosquitoes (and there was a plethora of both) I loved loved loved the people. The host family and the other American chicks who were staying with them (including, unbelievably enough, my roommate from first year at university) and the humans at the office who were coworkers but laughed like family and the strangers I met who became friends. All of them. The laughter and the adventures and the people, always the people. I wanted to stay and know and be known.
I hated to leave.
And this is just barely the beginning of a new week in a new place with a new set of people who I could come to love just as dearly if only I was given the time, and I will not be given the time, because two full months is barely long enough to begin to get to know any one place and even though I have almost two full months left I know they will not all be spent here.
And, dear readers, this is what Jesus did for much of His adult life. He traveled. He left His job as the son of a carpenter and went off and walked and taught and walked and taught and gathered disciples and walked and talked some more. And ultimately, dear readers, He walked Himself to Jerusalem. He walked Himself to His death.
So what does it mean, then, to be transient? What does it have to do with being Christian? With sacrifice, with theology, with how we live in the here-and-now, where-we-are, supermarket runs and suburbia and mototaxis and combis and micros. With the new and the overwhelming and the small and the mundane. What then?
I thank God for this time and this place and this land and these people. This is what God has for me and this is where He has placed me and this is what is at hand and what He was called me to do, and so it is best. Praise to Him.
thanks for reading