“I work for Lutheran Family Services.” I mention this casually and matter-of-factly to the librarian, though on the inside I’m bubbling with excitement to be able to say those words.
Adjusting to “the real world”- to the work force, to independence, to a new city, to leaving things behind- is exciting.
In a recent Friday formation (a time we set aside each Friday to spend in community discussing and learning an assortment of topics) we did an exercise in which we were to rank our personal values. We started with a massive pile of note cards with values written on them and eventually narrowed and ranked our top ten. One of my top ten was “beauty” in the sense of being able to appreciate the beauty in the things around you. The first month here in Denver has felt slow in a wonderful kind of way, full of exciting firsts and new experiences. My intentionality and mindfulness in engaging these experiences seem to slow down time, allowing me to truly appreciate the beauty all around me.
In many ways, the adjustment from school to work is liberating. There are things I miss, of course: my family and friends, my dog, a home on a college campus, being in the SEC during football season, and the most flexible schedule I’ll likely ever have. Yet, when I get home from work I am finally able to put the work on hold – it is finished until tomorrow. I finally get to pay attention to myself, a person for whom I didn’t leave much space in my *proudly* busy college schedule. Instead, I now go to concerts in the middle of the week, meet friends for drinks, put up my hammock in the front yard, and eat dinner around the table with my roommates every single night. And I like to reserve my weekends for the mountains.
In addition to the novelty of this free time and independence, there’s also the novelty of living in a city. I’ve never been able to step into my residential street and see the heart of downtown just blocks away. Never have I been able to walk or bike anywhere I wanted or needed to go. Never could I see three of my favorite bands within the span of two weeks. There’s also a uniqueness to this city for which I already feel entitled to be proud. The city is green- not only in the bike lane/composting kind of way- but there are trees lining streets where I wouldn’t expect to find them. Long east bound roads like 6th Avenue, whose huge green median lined with trees reminds me vaguely of New Orleans and makes me feel at home. Huge green parks dot the map and a bike trail runs along a creek through the middle of the city. The city itself also has the perfect situation of being able to have all the benefits of a city coupled with the opportunity for adventure and respite right down the road. I take to the mountains as often as possible – especially as fall is beginning to show its colors. Denver is also home to some really nice people. Though coming from Mississippi I have a pretty tough-to-reach bar for friendliness, the people whom I have met in Denver have really stepped up to surpass my expectations.
I can’t ignore that with all change come challenges. Though exciting, newness often corresponds with a loss in some sense of the word and I do not intend to minimize that part of the experience. But right now things are going pretty damn well.
Home is a funny word.
By definition, it simply means a permanent residence.
The structure where you most often lay your head.
The address you have your Amazon orders shipped to.
It’s a basic concept really, but often it’s much more complex than any of these defining characteristics.
Home is Lincoln, Rhode Island.
A small town,
in a small (smallest) state,
occupied by some of the biggest influences in my life.
Friends, that I’ve been lucky enough to keep since the 3rd grade,
and more who have stuck with me along the way.
Family, that provides me with a constant and unwavering support through all of my choices, good and bad.
Mom, who has shown me what being truly good looks like,
just by being herself.
Home is Pascoag, Rhode Island.
A (smaller) town, that houses a beautiful little summer camp,
(formally known as the Episcopal Conference Center)
I may not live there permanently, but my heart sure does.
Friends, travel from far and wide to experience a tangible presence of God together,
to learn what it means to love fully and radically.
Family, sticks around,
sending generation after generation each summer,
creating a passionate connection that runs deep and wide throughout the community.
Mom, with me in tow, turned into the parking lot for the first time 7 years ago.
We read the words painted on the rock out front,
“He who enters here, is a stranger but once”,
and we never looked back.
Home is where you feel supported.
Home is where you feel heard.
Home is where you can laugh without any inhibitions.
Home is connection.
Home is vulnerability.
Home is acceptance.
Home is the people you choose to surround yourself with.
People who don’t dim your light,
turn it all the way up.
Home is (most recently) Denver, Colorado.
A (BIG) city that I’ve lived in now for almost a month,
where the air is dry (thank god),
and alive with new beginnings.
There’s a pulsing heartbeat here,
that calls people from all walks of life.
Friends, who are bright, shiny, and new,
who make me feel supported,
who make me feel heard,
who can make me laugh without any inhibitions
(and usually till I snort).
Family, who I am newly re-acquainted with,
who make it easy for connection,
who encourage vulnerability,
and who accept me for all that I am, and all that I’m not.
Mom, who calls to make sure I don’t forget how important it is,
to keep my light steady and sure,
because she believes it can reach farther and wider than I could ever imagine for myself.
Home is more than the address the UPS guy reads,
it’s the excitement my roommates and I share, as I get my first pair of Chacos in the mail.
Home is more than the place I lay my head,
it’s where we make dinner every weeknight while singing just a little too loudly.
Home is more than a permanent residence,
it’s where you find your heart being filled all the way up,
where you can exist honestly and without shame.
Home is a someone who makes you feel all these things.
(Even if they’re not made up of roofs, doors, and windows)
Home can be more.
Home can be less.
Home is a funny word.
Greetings readers! This is my first blog post for ESC, so I’m going to give a brief introduction of myself:
My name is Rachel, and I’m serving at the Tread of Pioneers Museum in Steamboat Springs. I LOVE history and am kind of a nerd. I convinced my roommates to let me put up a picture of Abraham Lincoln in our living room. They’re pretty cool. Anyway, I’ve been out of college for a little more than a year and a half, and prior to ESC, had kind of just been floating from job to job, not really finding anything to stick with. I got a BS in history, which was fun, but my studies really only prepared me for graduate school. I was really struggling, but I am so excited to be here! Enough about me, let’s move on to…oh…a bit more about me.
When I found this opportunity, it seemed too perfect. I’d been seeking a museum job and wanting to move to the Rockies, and these things plus the added bonus of intentional Christian community sounded too good to be true. When I interviewed and was offered a place in ESC at the museum, I was elated, but I was also worried. I was worried that this was a selfish pursuit of career and location, and not what God wanted for me. Our relationship is not one where I often hear the Lord clearly and distinctly. It’s more of an “I’m going to try this thing, if it’s within your will, bless it, and of not, close the door.” And it seemed that He had been closing a lot of doors. Anyway, I didn’t feel strongly led by God to the program. It was everything I had wanted so I decided that since I got in, it was an ok path to take. I knew God wouldn’t let me stray from His side as long as I was pursuing Him. Still, I was nervous even up to the day I that I left that this was the “wrong” choice. I tend to think often of following God as doing what I don’t want to do. Now, sometimes this is the case, but not always. Just because something aligns with our desires, does not mean it is selfish or opposed to God’s plan.
The first few weeks here have been busy, draining, fun, and just plain overwhelming. I’ve seen God throughout these past couple weeks, but still had my doubts. Despite this, as I sat at the museum desk training this week, a feeling of rightness came over me. A feeling that I was in the right place. The Lord opened this door, and I walked through. Of course, He came with me! I feel already that what I have been searching for has been answered in this next stage of life. I don’t know what that means, but I am excited for the year to come. It is doubtless going to be one of challenges, growth, and love. I’m thankful for the Lord’s assurance and ever-present love and guidance. I get caught up too often in trying to ferret out “God’s plan” and “what He is calling me to.” It can be paralyzing for many of us, and I don’t think He wants it this way. Sometimes His will for people is very clear and distinct, but I don’t think this is always the case. To paraphrase one of my ministers from college: God isn’t always worried about where you go, as long as you take Him with you. I’m convinced that as long as my heart stays set on God, I will be serving Him, and He will be guiding me regardless of career choice, location, etc. I thank the Lord that He chooses to look at us and see sons and daughters, and though
“In their hearts humans plan their course…
the Lord establishes their steps.”
All praise, power, and glory be to the Lord God!
Holiness is in the new faces, names, plants, and stars.
The faces of all of the cows that we pass on the roads between Steamboat Springs and Hayden, Oak Creek or Yampa. Cows I no longer eat.
Jason, the manager of a local restaurant, who spent significant energy rescuing my phone from underneath the wooden floorboards of a sidewalk trying to hard to be quaint. He took his power drill back to Dude and Dan’s saying something about the might of karma.
The aspens, which I learned are capable of using their bleached white bark to perform photosynthesis during the winter time when the leaves have fallen.
The stars, which I think are technically the same, but look different because I’m thousands of miles from the North Carolina sky where the stars spent many, many of the last 365 nights winking at me. Whether or not they’re the same, I certainly can see more stars winking at me here.
I moved to Colorado looking for holiness. Faces, names, plants, and stars — I’ve found holiness in all the new.
When holy water was rare at best
It barely wet my fingertips
But now I have to hold my breath
Like I’m swimming in a sea of it
It used to be a world half there
Heaven’s second rate hand-me-down
But I walk it with a reverent air
Cause everything is holy now
Everything is holy now
— Peter Mayer, “Holy Now”