one word for 2013: here

17 Jan

What we need is here. –Wendell Berry

california coast

Four and a half months ago, we drove our boat of a Buick through the desert and into San Diego. It was the last leg of our cross-country trip. Two weeks, 3000-some miles.

“Do you want to stop for lunch in Arizona?” Josh asked me. “No,” I told him. “I just want to get there.”

We had waited to be here for six months, since Josh accepted the offer to study at University of California, San Diego. And even though we didn’t know where here was then, we had waited to be here for years. A place where I could be in ministry, where Josh could study and teach. Where we could be together, both doing the work we had been called to do.

We pulled into a space at the grad student apartment complex. Opened our door with our key. Moved in the few boxes that we had fit in our Buick. And we began again here.

Sometimes I have been good at being here, at being where I am.

When we lived in Gainesville, Florida, I ate pizza by the slice at Leonardo’s Pizzeria, watched the Gators play football, hiked to see real gators at the state park. I walked under live oaks with Spanish moss on muggy Florida nights.

When we lived in Durham, I listened to choral vespers in Duke Chapel at sunset. I watched the Blue Devils play basketball in Cameron Indoor Stadium. I drank lattes at Parker and Otis, drank Toro Shandies at Fullsteam Brewery, ate salted caramel ice cream at the Parlour ice cream truck. Camped at the Outer Banks and on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

But sometimes it is hard for me to be here, where I am. I am carried away by the shoulds. I forget to look and see God’s world around me. It is hard to live here instead of living somewhere in my imagination. Someplace with exposed brick walls and fireplaces, with spare bedrooms and nice furniture and a big TV and a dinner table that seats ten.

In the next apartment, the next house, I will hang curtains and put up pictures, wash the dishes and not pile the dirty clothes on the floor. When the blog is fancier, I will write more. The next place we live, I will get to know the neighbors, start a garden, host friends for dinner or Downton Abbey.

“You know, this is my life now,” a friend of mine said to me couple years ago. She had a teaching job with more work than money, a small apartment.

It was a revelation to me at the time, an inspiration. Life does not start when you move into the house you own, when you get the plum job, when you have the baby, when you wash the dishes and Pinterest-up the house. Life is now. Life is here.

I suck at resolutions. For ten or so years, I resolved to stop biting my nails and to learn how to play the guitar. I’ll let you guess how that went. And so I’ve given them up.

This is not a resolution. It is just a word, one word to focus me this year: Here. This is my life here.

In 2013, I will live my life here.

Here. In this graduate student apartment, with its teal carpets, with its shower that seems built for a hobbit and kitchen cabinets that seem built for a basketball player. Here, where my husband and my kitten live, where the bookshelves are full of books and the cabinets are full of tea.

Here. In my little neighborhood, with the artisan pizza place across the street and the neighbors whose names we know. Five miles from the coast, where you can watch the waves crash and the pelicans fish for their supper. Ten miles from Balboa Park, with its museums and trails and tea rooms.

Here. In my job, in the church where I work, this congregation in East County San Diego that feeds pancakes to anyone who wants some, gives clothes to any woman who needs them, makes blankets for any baby who is without. This job that is a calling, that I love and that keeps me up at night.

Here. In these friendships. In these skills and gifts I have, small as they may seem. Here. In this body, in this blog, in these moments I journey through as I pass through the days.

“We pray,” writes Wendell Berry, “not for new earth or heaven, but to be quiet in heart, and in eye, clear. What we need is here.”

This is my resolution, my word, my exercise, my discipline for 2013: To live here. To read the books already on the bookshelves, to cook the food already in the pantry. To take the curtains out of the boxes and hang them, hang the pictures over the couch. To nourish and exercise and care for this body, to call it beloved. To hang the nameplate on my office and call it mine. To pray and give and serve and love here, not someplace else.

We traveled 3000-some miles. It took two weeks, I thought. But maybe I’ve been traveling for nearly thirty years, my whole life. I look around me. I begin here.

{Linking up with the One Word 365 community}


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