Lately, I have been distracted by thoughts about going places. As in, “Where, exactly, am I going in life? What is my direction?” Road signs make me anxious- so direct, so unquestioned. When I run or walk, I want never to stop, though my body prevents me. After nearly a year of truly dwelling, in the spirit, in the ways of which ever community I happen to find myself in, I find myself overcome with that familiar itch that seems to say, “Okay. Time to move on.”
Today it occurred to me that perhaps part of the reason I have been feeling this so strongly is that I am surrounded by a culture that believes tremendously in a sense of place. It is a belief that expresses itself in both the smallest details of daily life as well as a more general way of being. Here, everything has a place. Every fork, knife and spoon belongs in a particular slot in a particular drawer. Every room is labeled, clearly with its designated purpose. There are rooms for meeting, rooms for silence. Spaces for greeting, praying, working and eating. Each person knows her place- the housekeeper, the scholar, the artisan, the nurse, the teacher. When she it is her day to do “units” or be a “plate-holder” she knows exactly what this means, where to stand and what to do. To be honest, I often find this constant order and sense place overwhelming. It directly contradicts my own place in life right now, which is seeking, rootless and, in fact, without place. It’s a familiar feeling- one I had in Chipole often- of something clashing. Usually, I've found this is a symptom of something new forming, if you give it time.
Last week, we celebrated the 60th and 75th of 16 sisters. The liturgy, like always, was beautiful. I felt fortunate to celebrate with sisters I have visited with, worked with and who have become my friends. I find myself, at this point in my life, both amazed and envious of this milestone. Clearly, these women have found their place in monastic life. It would be impossible to live with fidelity to their vows for this many years without confidence in their call to this place. I am a person of great, but scattered passion. To commit yourself to one life and live that deeply I see as a brave and admirable thing. I have a thousand lives I want to live. A hundred dreams, a million plans. Place, certainly, is a gift. But right now what I am most thankful for is time.