I recently moved away from home for the first time in my life. I moved away from my hometown when I went to college, of course, but… so did everyone else. Not surprisingly, I never felt settled there. Somehow, I ended up back in the middle of Illinois feeling very much at home. I was comfortable with my relationships, comfortable with my surroundings, and relatively comfortable with my routine and the potential future that was ever present. Then my wife and I made the decision to move away.
We left behind the mundane landscape of cornfields and suburbia (sans city) of the rural Midwest and moved to Denver, Colorado… just like 80% of the other residents of Denver. It is incredible, truly incredible, how many people have moved here from the Midwest. I won’t get into the difficulties I’ve had with physically leaving some of the greatest friendships I have experienced, but instead, I’ll try to focus on something a bit less disheartening.
Why do we (humans) desire to be in an area with vast landscapes, diverse culture, and variety? Why do we long for adventure, solitude, and the exhilaration of being awestruck? I honestly believe it is our physical desire to experience The Almighty that drives us toward these potentialities. Now, that being said it is still up to us to respond to and feed that desire. And certainly, this can be done anywhere regardless of your surroundings.
But why? Why mountains? Why rivers? Why oceans? Will the masses of young people who are flocking to places like Denver, Portland, and Seattle just move back to the Midwest when we are ready to “settle down?” What is it about the Midwest that spurns us to abandon the ship that we’ve effortlessly sailed on our whole lives? Could it be, this generation is rejecting the lifestyle and faith of their parents to create something of their own?
For the last several years I have both knowingly and innocently tried to quench my Spirit. Some people might not recognize it as anything but extreme pragmatism, but I know that something hasn’t been sitting right and my faith is weaker because of it. My ability to respond to the Holy Spirit has been buried deep in the scar tissue of my soul. I feel it when songs fail to move me like they used to. I can sense it when I feel justified in ignoring the poor and powerless, and when I catch myself valuing my life more than those around me. Not that I’m trying to justify these types of thoughts and actions, but perhaps the way in which my faith will play out in reality has been changing, and I’ve been misunderstanding or ignoring how I should handle it. Maybe?
My wife and I have been checking out a local church in Denver called bloom. It has been a magnificent experience thus far. It has helped show me how the blend of history, story, and the mystery of faith shape my beliefs. I feel as though I didn’t know what to do or how to move forward in my faith; where doubt has more power than truth because I have such a hard time embracing mystery. This week, after a teaching on the subject I felt like there was a stirring in my Spirit and mind to look at life through a more eucharistic lens. All the things I daily take for granted should be valued and understood as part of the gift of life and part of Christ’s sacrifice. I think this attitude is reflected in my desire and yearning for those awe inspiring experiences I mentioned above and I don’t think I’m the only one who can relate to this. I think we are given oceans and rivers, mountains and cities, and variety and diversity as a gift. So, I will try and be grateful.