I recently participated in a retired clergy luncheon where the question of the day was: what has most surprised you in retirement? My answer came bubbling up out of me. “The urge to travel”! I had not realized how much my 25+ years in parish ministry had built up a fountain of desire to get out there and see the world. And not only, that, but the desire to be with family (spread out all over the US), especially at major feasts of the year or special occasions.
That all got me to wondering about my restlessness. So many people I have known over the years have deep roots in the communities I have served. They have lived there a long time and have major roles, not only in their work, but in their service to their community. They are settled and happy in their communities. My ministry to and with parishes was characterized by change and the need to move on after a few years – the longest tenure I had was 10 years in a large congregation that kept me so busy I had little time to become an “established citizen” in the community. And, even then, we lived in three different places during that time. Will I ever put down roots and stay somewhere for an extended time? That may happen now that I am retired as we have now lived in the same house for over 5 years (almost a record for us!). And we travel quite a bit.
Roots are essential for the development of all kinds of plants. Deep roots provide access to necessary nutrients and water. But I’ve also learned that there are different kinds of roots. Did you know that the tallest trees in our country, the Giant Redwoods, grow lateral roots that intertwine with each other and this is what keeps them standing? They depend on each other. And one of the oldest and largest living organisms on the planet is the PANDO, which is a colony of Aspen trees across the mountains of Colorado that all have the same DNA and therefore, root systems!
That says to me that my longing for travel, my tendency to move on, my restlessness on the surface of the planet is part of a deeper longing for connection. It’s just possible that, by traveling instead of staying home is adding to the connective tissue that belongs to all of us humans. I know that I am always changed by my journeys and inspired to live a more intentional life of love.
And so it is. These musings will be reflections on my (our – George is in this, too!) travels. As we begin 2019 with some more extensive adventures ahead. May our connections with you and the world spread roots that produce abundant love.