Everyone must leave. Everyone has to leave their home and come back again to love it for all new reasons. I want to keep my soul fertile to change. Our minds were meant to figure things out, not read the same page. – Donald Miller in Through Painted Deserts
I have left. I left the essays and assigments and obligations. At college, the love I show is a mile wide and an inch deep. It’s hard to love people at school, where life is fast and my planner fills up. It’s easy to love activities and agendas centered around people instead of people themselves. Lunch meetings, life groups, accountability partners, service projects, even my Lent journey, love is behind all of it in the true sense of the word “behind.” Love shines through those things, those activities that fill up my task-oriented and efficient life. The love shines through but it feels fragmented and diluted.
Love on this trip needs to be different. It needs to be unfiltered. This trip has no agenda, so the love shouldn’t run on schedule. It should just be. This has me thinking of analogies for love. A prism doesn’t produce light. It simply is there. Light shines through it and, for reasons I learned and forgot in physics class, it makes the color spectrum visible. Reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, indigos, and violets, they were contained within that original light but they weren’t visible. Maybe our role in this world is to be prisms, taking God’s infinite glory and grandeur and reflecting all its intricacies and complexities, making them more visible to a world with cloudy eyes.
Love on this trip also needs to be effortless, not in the sense that it isn’t intentional but in the sense that it doesn’t feel laborious or burdensome. Love so often feels like I’m canoeing across a lake, putting everything behind each stroke, sweat dripping from my brow, shoulders burning. I wonder if it couldn’t be more like rafting down a river. God the Father would be the river, the context and definer of what love even is. Jesus would be the one who chartered the river, who rafted it to perfection, flawlessly navigating every rapid that seeks to destroy or distract from the perfection of His love. The Holy Spirit would be the current, the one who, when abided in, makes the journey possible just like it was for Jesus, not laborious or burdensome but full of vitality and joy.
I scribble this blue ink on a white page as we drive West on I-40. Jared is speeding but the calm of the early morning make the pace feel natural. The seven of us headed out in the Camry and CRV fourteen hours prior. The quote earlier about leaving comes from the perfect backdrop for this journey, Through Painted Deserts on tape by Donald Miller. The prose we tune into while the familiar narrative sections give us time to think about our own narrative as it unfolds. What kind of a story are we writing? What kind of a story are we going to write?
Bill has been the MVC(Most Valuable Camper) so far. He’s sleeping in the backseat and Jared compares him to the little Asian kid from The Goonies. I think He’s more like Byongsong from kicking and screaming. So far we have found out that back in Vietnam, Bill’s mom taught him a healthy appreciation for ABBA and John Denver.
Shadows of snow-covered cliffs are beginning to appear as a train and us make our way through a canyon just past Gallup, Arizona. Huge hand-printed billboards advertising Indian moccasins and petrified wood let us know we are finally away. As the sun comes up, it is clear that we have left in every sense of the word. We left to rest. We left to learn how our love can start to look more like prisms and rivers. And we left so we could come back and love better.