It’s always rough for me when my mom has to go back to Georgia after visiting us here in Texas. Last week, she was kind enough to supervise my rowdy crew while I was at the CNMC, which I greatly appreciated – but I didn’t get to spend much time with her myself before she had to fly home. It takes a few days for me to get back to feeling normal whenever she leaves. I have a hard time focusing on my day-to-day stuff because her being here reminds me of how tough it is for me to be this far from home.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy where we live; there’s lots to recommend this area (suburbs of Houston) – very diverse city, amazing cultural offerings we never take advantage of, best parish ever, many supportive friends and family. I just wish that a few states in between here and Georgia could be relocated to another region of the country so that I’d be a day’s drive from my mom. Not too much to ask, in the grand scheme of things.
I’ve gotten quite good at displacement, or so I tell myself. “I’m just not going to focus on that.” Stressors pile up, but I just put them out of my mind. Channel that worry into productivity. I used to be quite terrible about fixating on a situation and letting it take over my entire worldview, but now – I just don’t even think about it.
Except, of course, it’s still THERE. Still tromping around in the back rooms of my mind, turning over file cabinets and knocking over vases.
I say that I’m “giving it to God,” these things beyond my control, but the truth is I absolutely have not done that, nor do I know how.
Here’s this, from Jeremiah, in today’s Office of Readings:
The Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, says this to all the exiles deported from Jerusalem to Babylon, “Build houses, settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce; take wives and have sons and daughters; choose wives for your sons, find husbands for your daughters so that these can bear sons and daughters in their turn; you must increase there and not decrease. Work for the good of the country to which I have exiled you; pray to the Lord on its behalf, since on its welfare yours depends. For the Lord says this: Only when the seventy years granted to Babylon are over, will I visit you and fulfil my promise in your favour by bringing you back to this place. I know the plans I have in mind for you – it is the Lord who speaks – plans for peace, not disaster, reserving a future full of hope for you. Then when you call to me, and come to plead with me, I will listen to you. When you seek me you shall find me, when you seek me with all your heart; I will let you find me – it is the Lord who speaks. I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have dispersed you – it is the Lord who speaks. I will bring you back to the place from which I exiled you.
I know it’s the First Worldyest of problems to say “I live so far from my mom that she can only fly in a few times during the year” but it’s just really getting to me right now, combined with some other stuff, and this really spoke to my heart today.
There’s always going to be exile, in this lifetime. I get that. It’s very much what draws me to Walker Percy – whose widow, Mary Townsend Percy, died today.
And what we’re supposed to do, apparently, is not pretend the exile isn’t happening. Instead, we are to put down roots. Do you know how much I emote over my little herb garden, my decision to plant something as a sign of “okay, we’re going to live here for a while?” I think of myself as an adventurous soul but I really feel like our repeated moves, job changes, life changes over the past few years are wearing on me. It’s an exile, of sorts, and no, I don’t mean “I’m exiled to Texas” because I’m truly grateful for the opportunities and friends and queso.
Just, this “it’s not always going to be this hard” – I needed to hear that today.