Those that know me well are probably amazed it has taken me so long to address this topic! Overdue though it may seem, it’s actually a testimony to the grace and favor of God in my life that the issue hasn’t presented itself in a stronger form. Tonight it bears acknowledgement, however, as a sweet surprise “royal” high tea – a belated birthday treat – put circumstances in better light.
I had the joy of sitting beside Pastor Lois Gott, world revivalist and personal mentor via the HOP internship. She has a way of putting me at ease with her warmth and vitality – and yet I seem to come away from her company more contemplative than I entered it. She is much more extraverted and gregarious than I tend to be when I am at my most natural. On most occasions this wouldn’t be particularly remarkable. I’d talk if I chose, or silently observe if I’d prefer. But as my superior and one I hope to honor, I challenge myself to draw up out of my comfortable internal nest and engage. This runs counter to the ease I feel in her presence – on the one hand, I am loved and accepted as I am, but on the other hand, I am challenged to behave in ways which are not indicative of who I am.
I think my relationship with Pastor Lois is part of the wider fractal of living in community and culture here. There is a tension between being myself as the contemplative observer and the mandate to rapidly become part of an integrated unit. On the one hand, I must be true to myself in order to be truly known. On the other hand, I cannot be known unless I behave in ways that are inconsistent with who I am.
The result of living in such tension is, to be honest, a seemingly permanent state of semi-exhaustion. My closest friends – those with whom long history of mutual appreciation and similar temperament has provided the immeasurably valuable gift of peace – are far from me. Thankful as I am for social media and technology, ain’t nothing like the real thing. My heart longs for the rest found in those longstanding and life-giving relationships. The effects of being apart seem to be cumulative – each day feeling a bit more laborious.
Would you call that homesickness? I’ve shed tears for the lovely Tennessee autumn I’m missing and the swimmable rivers that I could wade in endlessly, but this is a different sadness.
I never realized what a privilege it was to know and be known among others with ease and tranquility of soul. The challenges of my current context makes those friendships all the more precious and their absence more poignant.
You know who you are. I love you dearly and miss you acutely, and I am so thankful for the treasure you are in my life.