“I feel with certainty that everything follows from place, that place makes us who we are, that landscape carves out a certain character and community, and that ultimately the places in which we choose to live govern the unfolding our lives.” – Renée Askins, Shadow Mountain: A Memoir of Wolves, a Woman, and the Wild
So, here I am. I am sitting on my bed in my house in Eagan, Minnesota (the upper Midwest region of the USA for those of you not familiar with American geography.) Over my laptop, I can see out the window – the cul-de-sac, the neighbors’ lawns, a few parked cars. In general, it looks the same since looking out my window a year ago.
I want to say that my life has been changed forever, that I will never be the same way again since living and serving in London. Indeed, it has. However, I also need to add that no matter what I had done in the last 12 months, I would have changed anyway. We’re always growing and learning things as we stumble along the paths ahead of us. In fact, you would need to be a ridiculously stubborn person to get through any steps of life without gaining at least a bit of wisdom. 😉
I’m not sitting here feeling acutely changed. Yet there have been several occasions since my arrival a week and a day ago that I have begun sentences with “You know, in London, I…” or “At All Saints worship, we…” or “I could really go for a cuppa right now!” There’s nothing profound to report from this side of the pond…but I think I must still be stressed about the change judging by my exhaustion from jet lag, climate, American food, and being with people in general. I’ve been coping by getting rid of all the stuff I don’t need (after a year of living out of a suitcase), going on walks, reading a lot, and having the occasional cuppa (sadly, with the microwave since I don’t have a kettle…yet.)
What am I doing next? Well, I’ve applied for a part time children’s ministry job at my home church, and then I can apply for substitute teacher jobs once my Minnesota teacher license is processed. In a more abstract sense, I’m only beginning to sort out the contrasts between white, wealthy, suburban Eagan, compared to Peckham with all of its socioeconomic, cultural, and racial diversity. I’m hoping to continue this blog as a way to externally process and share some of my thoughts on the places I call home, including Peckham and Eagan.
However, both places have people I love dearly living in community, feeling a sense of normalcy within the environments that have been handed to them. As a Christian who can call both Peckham and Eagan home, I am called to see God at work in these places. I’m still learning the reciprocity we have with our homes, how we shape each other. May we be hands and feet of healing. May we also have the humility to admit that we need healing in ourselves. May we be aware of how our homes create us, and how we create our homes in return.