Becoming a homeowner was something that I never intended to do. I had hoped that I could be a wanderer, to see the world, to continue moving and never settle down, meet many different and interesting people, and to have some exciting bohemian adventures along the way. Now, that dream is ending, and I am establishing a home. I guess it is about time with four children and another one on the way, but I imagined that we could be some happy traveling hippy clan.
To be honest, I have always had this arrogant streak that thought that not owning a home was more spiritual. I still wrestle with it, especially when I am having trouble on an improvement project at the house. Jesus, as far as we know, did not own a home, and, of course, I want to be like Jesus. I assumed that it would be more Christlike to not have the worries of a house in my life. All the time, I missed the point that being like Jesus is more than being carefree, having long hair, wearing sandals, and not owning a home. I have tried all that, and it has not made me more of who God has designed me to be. Being like Jesus is about taking on the characteristics of Jesus in all areas of my life.
With that said, I have realized that my calling is to be planted firmly within a community. You might have a similar calling. Then again, you might be called to be a wanderer, or you might be ignoring your calling completely. Within that specific calling, we must never forget our larger calling: we are called to love everyone around us.
I have to learn to shift gears and look at how to love God while being firmly planted in one location. Rose Marie Berger wrote in her article, The Art of Householding, "The 'gift of stability' is considered the fourth vow in Orthodox and Benedictine monastic life. Poverty, chastity, and obedience are the 'evangelical vows' that make one radically available to those in need of the gospel. Stability, as Thomas Merton put it, means to 'find the place that God has given you and take root there.'"
In Wendell Berry's 10 Hopes, he explains, "Love your neighbors - not the neighbors you pick out, but the ones you have." That, my friends, is much easier said than done.
You might be called to put your roots down. It might be to start going to church or stop church shopping and become part of a flawed spiritual community. Flawed because every spiritual community is. It might be to become part of an organization despite not agreeing with them on every point. We don't even agree with ourselves from five years ago on every point. It might be to stop wandering and to permanently move into a community despite it not having everything you want. Out here in the rural Midwest, no town will have everything we want. Whatever the case, putting your roots down is about building healthy and authentic relationships with the people around you. Together, we can do much more than we can do alone.
It has never been my desire to ever be firmly planted in a community. One thing that my wife has always blessed me with in our marriage, despite all of my kicking, screaming, and arguing against it, is stability. In this case, like many times in my relationship with her, I must realize that what she wants is actually better for us. That is the beauty of good relationships. It is not always about our individual selves, but in chasing after collective happiness we will find that we are happy individually.