By Lisa Huddleston
I just got off the phone with a friend who was chuckling over a young college student’s essay on his firm beliefs in a young earth, a literal Genesis, and the sinfulness of those who don’t agree with his position. Rather than joining my friend’s amusement, I found a sad smile flitting around my mouth. “Bless his heart,” was the best I could come up with at first. Then “He is young. Someday when he is old he will learn how little he can really know.” And today that is one truth I firmly hold. Every day I live, I confess to knowing a little less–but I do feel much better about it, and that is good.
My sweet girl and her husband have been married for one year and four months. They have moved twice and have looked at several wonderfully tiny old houses to buy. Yet, they have not taken the plunge, because as my girl says, “I’m not sure we really belong in Lebanon.” I smile everytime I hear those words, because I’m pretty certain that Chuck and I don’t really belong here either.
Don’t misunderstand. We have a truly lovely home in a truly lovely location with deep roots for his family and the privacy that we both enjoy so well. Yet there are many times when I feel restless with the life we lead. If I want to, I can go for days without seeing anyone but the two people with whom I live–and that’s just fine. But I know that my neighbors, as far away as they are, are watching out for me and sometimes I long for the impersonal crowdedness of the city, the knowledge that no one knows me or will call if an ambulance passes down the street or a strange car is in my driveway. Anonymity is a comfort at times.
Perhaps that is why I feel more at home in the large church I now attend than the smaller one we were a part of for many, many years. Now I can go to services and barely speak to a soul. I do recognize the handful with whom we attend a small group and am glad to receive their smiles of greeting, but little is required of me in the way of conversation and I am glad (for good or for bad). So many times, I’m just not up for it. The exchange of information of what has happened during the week–I was kind of glad when I posted everything on Facebook, because I didn’t have to recount it individually. But maybe it’s even better this way. No one knows that I took a trip or went to the grocery or rode my bike past a beautifully dying old barn. They don’t know so they don’t know to ask and I am spared the trial of making a conversation with people with whom I truly have little relationship.
That is another thing that was so lovely about our time with our old friends last week. When we spoke it was about REAL things, things that matter like politics and religion and money. The forbidden three in the shallow world of acquaintances. It was glorious. And then, as my friend mentioned, it was equally wonderful to sit in silence around the pool and just soak in the beauty of the setting we shared. Even in the silence the belonging was a warm blanket comfortably wrapped around our shoulders and thrown across our chilly laps. What a joy to belong.
A joy and a rarity. When I watch the news and listen to the political chaos that is our country I feel the outsider I have become–not a true liberal nor a true conservative, definitely not a Democrat nor Republican. The same is true with the church–I am no longer at home in the confines of doctrine and denomination. Too much of me hangs over the walls of delineation. I cannot find a comfortable silence in these camps therefore I often find myself bursting forth in loud cries of discomfort–like a muffin-top waist pinched in by a too-tight belt. It just isn’t pretty.
When I was younger I was just like my professor friend’s self-righteous and oh-so-certain student. But now? I just don’t know, and I just don’t belong. And I suppose that’s just okay and as it should be as I get closer to home, baruch HaShem.