Last week, I was reading Richard Rohr’s book, On the Threshold of Transformation: Daily Meditations for Men, and came across something that has been a theme in my life, though not one I’ve always allowed to play out:
Every man wants to discover something, to find what is missing here by journeying to a new place. We forget that we take the same old self to the new place
Sometimes we refer to this as the geographical solution, the idea that we can solve our problems through an experience far from home. Encounters with the unfamiliar can indeed open new possibilities and perspectives-but only if they break through our filters and actually change us. New experiences are more often diversionary tactics.
For a long time now, I’ve wanted to move to Oregon. My wife and I visited there on a vacation a few years ago, and I’ve never been able to get the scent of the Oregon air out of my psyche.* What’s interesting is that whenever times get especially stressful, the state of Oregon comes up at some point, even if it’s in jest. ”Let’s just pack up and move to Oregon,” we’ll say.
Lately, we’ve struggled with our church attendance at St. Bartholomew’s. We love St. B’s (as it’s affectionately known), but have found ourselves talking about looking for a new church home because of some challenges that have made it difficult to get to church. But once we thought through it, we realized that those same challenges would exist no matter where we go.
Wow. It appears that I am the problem.
Whether it be a reliance on new experiences or the hope for a change in location, we take our baggage with us wherever we go. Trying to find a new geographical location to live out our neurosis usually only gives us a different backdrop for the script to play out.
Along with some other emphases for Lent, I’m inviting God’s change in me while I stay where I am. Instead of looking for new experiences and a change of scenery, I am looking for God in the scenery right before my eyes.
*The premiere of the new television show, Portlandia, hasn’t changed this. However, I can’t stop watching that show. It’s like a train wreck I can’t look away from, but in this case the train was filled with kittens and puppies.