I have always felt that you don’t really live somewhere until you take a trip away and return to it. At that point you are trying to get home. It becomes the place you know and love. It becomes the bookend setting in your there-and-back-again excursions.
Fort Smith became that place for me quite some time ago. In fact I could describe the last fifteen years of life as a multi-volume there-and-back-again story. I left my homeland all those years ago and now I have returned to it changed and wizened by my astounding experiences and amazing adventures in far away places with strange sounding names like Clyde and Clute.
I am on a little quest right now. It is a quest for knowledge and insight. I am in Abilene, Texas for the 2005 Ministry Summit. Alan Roxburgh has been lecturing on the changes taking place in our culture and world and what it means for church leaders. As a culture, we are all on a journey and we have left the land we know. The bad news is we can’t go back to what we knew. It isn’t there anymore. The good news is that God has a future for us if we are willing to trust in him to guide us through the wilderness of transition.
I become something of a nostalgic refugee when I am away from home. Absence, my absence, makes my heart grow fonder I suppose. I learn not to take my family and my community for granted. On my journey, I listen to the tales of others pilgrims, some I know and some I do not know, and the stories always draw me back to my family and my congregation and how much I love and appreciate them. Yesterday, I had dinner with a friend who is a gifted preacher and church leader. I told him that I thought of him just the day before and asked him if he remembered how eleven years ago from the day he and another friend were bored undergraduate students playing around on the elevators at Hendricks hospital while my wife was in labor. He did. I am just a nostalgic refugee and the topic always seems to come back to the world I know and the people I love.
I have many more reflections and comments on change and transition, dear reader. So come back to Written Without Ink and join the discussion. I welcome your comments and encourage you to change my blog into a b’logue — that’s short for web-dialogue. You read the word here first, dear reader!