The last six (going on seven) weeks have been a blur of cooking over a fire, gardening, office work, feeding kittens, herding children, sleeping under the stars, more office work, fixing a kitten cage, leading hikes, lifeguarding on a river, hauling who knows what, and reading Writing Grant Proposals for Dummies. In between those things, I’m jumping through hoops to get my North Dakota teaching license and find an apartment. It’s been two years since I moved to London, a year since I moved back to Minnesota to work at my church and substitute teach, and now I’m halfway done with another summer of ministry at Good Earth Village. Where did this time go?!
My emotions are rather scattered right now, but the best feeling I can use to describe them is homesick. I miss Peckham and all of the generous people who offered me hospitality and friendship across the United Kingdom. I miss Concordia College and my friends who are now scattered across North America and beyond. I miss my previous summers at Good Earth Village and friends who have moved on to other vocations. I’m missing some loved ones I’ve lost in the last few years. A lot of my “free” time must be spent on logistics for my upcoming move to North Dakota in about a month…so I’m feeling a bit homesick for the present moment as well. Sheesh! Emotions make life complicated. 😀
As I contemplate my next steps, I’m struggling with the contradictions of the people and experiences I’ve come to call home. I love the green, the trees, the creek, the starry night sky of Good Earth, the torrential rain peppered with booming thunder as I write this post, and yet I miss the crowded, concrete cacophony and variety of London. I loved the perks that came with moving back to the affluent Saint Paul, like our gorgeous library, terrific schools, clean and spacious parks, while also feeling frustration and shame coming from a family that lived on the poorer end of things for so long in this context. I’m reminded that being white, Lutheran, English speaker with a Minnesota heritage help me “fit in” at a predominantly white, Lutheran summer camp in rural Minnesota…and yet these were the very traits that set me apart in an inner-city London neighborhood filled with mostly Caribbean and West African people, in addition to migrants from nearly continent. I love belonging, but I miss the diversity and constant privilege-checking that London offered. Is having everything and everyone I want in my life too much to ask of the universe? (just kidding…kind of.)
I’m struggling with how to live with Christ-like simplicity in the First World, America especially, where it’s necessary to own a car and more stuff than I need as an individual, because I don’t always know who will be there to provide for me in the adult world when I can’t provide for myself (although camp offers one way to live in a strong community in the First World, which is a reason I love it so much.) I’m struggling with how our outdoor ministry staff may or may not be able to talk with our campers about the recent racially driven acts of violence in Charleston and elsewhere, as well as the Supreme Court ruling to lift the bans on same-gender marriage in all fifty states, when we don’t know the political and cultural flavors that permeate the other spheres of these kids’ lives. The way my own family acknowledges how race, class, religion, sexuality, and political leanings play a role in our daily lives can cause enough negative feelings from all parties involved that we revert to the age-old Minnesota method of only talking about weather, since even sports can turn sour depending on how the Vikings are doing or if a cousin started dating a Packer fan. 😉
Now I’ve got a new adventure awaiting me – teaching Fourth Grade to young members of the Spirit Lake Tribe in North Dakota. I’m excited. Nervous, too. Fort Totten will be the opposite of London in a lot of ways, but I think remarkably similar in some others. This context is going to check my privilege a lot like Peckham did. Facing up to the oppressive systems that benefit me is always hard, but I’m missing the face-to-face relationships that put more context into what I don’t understand. I might be biased as a schoolteacher, but “Learning is good for you!”
In the meantime, I love it here at Good Earth Village, and as hard as what I’ve been calling “grownup world logistics” are, I am truly grateful for the here and now when I’m working. We have an amazing staff who challenge me to grow every day, and I have the honor of seeing them grow as well. I can be ridiculous and responsible at the same time, and I am so so SO blessed “do” and “be” and “give” and “receive” ministry (all nuances included) in this beautiful and unique context of “home.”
Peace to you, my friends, on whatever road you’re travelling.