Thursday, September 24, 2009

Should I stay or should I go?

I am surrounded by people that travel. Alaskans are a traveling and adventurous lot in general. If you are looking, you will find them out exploring all over the world. Also, almost all of us have family outside of Alaska that we need to visit, so we take a lot of trips each year. When we get together with friends the question of “when and where is your next trip” is a major topic of discussion. Mark’s parents are off on a trip to some far flung part of the world every other week it seems. Travel is a part of the culture in which I live.

Yesterday Mark came in the door from work with a brochure in his hand. “I’ve got an idea what we can do next year”, he said. “How about this?”

There was a surgery conference to be held in Maui at the end of January and he was suggesting that his mother come up and watch the kids while we go to Hawaii for a little vacation, just the two of us. I looked at the words and then up at Mark’s expectant face and out of my mouth popped the words, “I don’t want to go.” Whoa. My husband is offering me a trip to a tropical island in the dead of winter and I say “no”?

As I’ve thought about it since I realize that instead of “I don’t want to go” the more correct words would have been, “I want to stay here” or “I don’t want to leave home”. Both of which feel very true.

As I talked about in my previous post, I have put my roots down deep here. I love being home and don’t like being uprooted. Does it have to do with my kids? My family? My day to day life? Yes, all of these, but it also has to do with my general sense of contentment. I feel full and really happy. Here. Sometimes I think, or even worry, that I have become very unadventurous, even timid about travel, despite the fact that I have just returned from Africa and was in France in May. But in reality, Mark is the adventurous one and I am often along for the ride.

At this moment in my life it feels that home and Alaska has everything that I need. This groundedness feels like a preparation for a winter season in my life. And for me that doesn’t mean a barren time. Winter is my favorite season! For me, winter is an inward time, a less busy time. An opportunity to simplify. I’m no good at flitting here and there. No good at quick transitions. I’m longing for a long, uninterrupted stretch of settling deeply into my space. A time to write, a time to let things be created in me. A time to really be with myself.

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Macrina said...

Oh I totally understand the SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO...just got back from Louisiana, now looking at California and Virginia before Christmas. Leading retreats. People tell me that I've help change their lives and I want to say, "I wish I could change mine." Longing for HERMIT TIME. I hear you girl.

Rebecca Johnson said...

Macrina, Yes, you really do hear me. So many times friends and I think that everything would be so much easier and simpler if we just became monks or nuns. It doesn't really work that way, does it? BTW, you DO change people's lives (I know you helped change mine) and I am pretty sure that in the process of changing other people's lives, we change our own. That is my own experience as a spiritual director. I hope that you have Hermit Time scheduled. I think so often of the beauty of the hermitage associated with your monastery. Can't remember its name but I can see the view as clear as day. Rebecca

Anonymous said...

Well you are typing to a hermit! yes it can be taken to a bad place. I've been there. But I see now that I am not able to be a hermit....that I miss it. not in the way I would have thought. Not because it was safe. I miss the freedom in it. try and find the rational in that.

Rebecca Johnson said...

I do see the rationale, Nichol. Yes, one of the things that I want to experience is the freedom of staying put.

Rebecca Johnson said...

This is from Roy, he couldn't get it to post, but it is so beautiful that I wanted to share:

Merton said that our true journey is inward. You are a true-blooded contemplative... or you hear the call better than most people. Because I believe we are all contemplatives. We just have different schedules and priorities... I mean it in a cosmic and spiritual way.

But I deeply relate with your wanting to stay HERE. Not just the physical here, but the inner here. Been working from home and I like it... the silence, the aloneness. When I go up and down the stairs, I slow it down, and feel the movement, feel my bare feet land on its step, feel my thigh muscles contract to lift me... and the sensations and the wonder of and the privilege in my creation make me tear up. Like now. I mean, why did God bother giving me life?

I am so with you right now... and with all the contemplatives that ever lived, that is alive, that is to be born.

"Stay here, and keep watch with me,
Watch and pray."
-Taize chant

Vigilate et orate.

Beth Knight said...

Yes - this resonates for me in that one thing I love about Alaska is a feeling of community... a sense of comfort in what is right HERE... NOW... the fresh air, the smells when each season changes and the peace that a new snow offers. When people talk about cruise boat tours and travels to Europe I don't feel called there to any of that. While I might enjoy it someday, staying on American, USA soil feels enough for me. I love my homeland inspite of all its woes and I don't feel the need to travel by air to get away. A get-away for me is a drive out Turnagain Arm where I sit alone in my car and gaze at the inlet waters and mountain landscape, then I pray, and sigh and take a nap. Beth K