Rootless in Seattle?

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.

3 thoughts on “Rootless in Seattle?

  1. You know that I have very deep roots, but still love to travel and try to stay connected to our widespread family. I yearn for more connections to extended family and am often frustrated that others do not feel similarly. I also think our history and the fact that we grew up away from extended family might add to the need for them. And no matter how much I travel, I always love coming home.

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  2. Susan and I have enjoyed your travel posts on FB a lot, but we also discuss how experiences have been different from yours and how that influences our thoughts about travel. First, we have stayed longer at one or more locations due to the nature of our jobs: 17 years in Pgh, then 30 years in BOS. Second, I have always participated in lots of scientific/medical meetings in many places around the world. It was very easy and economical to “add” Susan to these trips by picking hotels with similar single and double rates, using credit card mileage plans, and joining the “accompanying persons” programs which were heavily subsidized by the conference. England 2x, Germany 2x, Japan 3x, Sweden, Italy to name some venues. All this travel has to some extent satisfied our Wander Lust. Also, we are growing weary of TSA, Customs, and all the other hoops needed to travel these days. We do love to visit NYC a couple of times a year to do what only can be done there – like the Met opera. And we can peacefully take 1st class nonstop bus from Portland ME to downtown Manhattan, then stay economically in an apt that Susan’s cousin keeps on the Upper West Side. And of course we love to visit our kids.

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    1. One of the issues I had to deal with was George’s travel to exotic places for conferences. I could never join him because of the nature of full time parish ministry – the timing never worked. Also, in those days we did not have the financial resources. So, I enjoyed his travels vicariously.

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