Bonnie Raitt’s 1998 album, Fundamental, features a lead song, The Fundamental Things. The lyrics speak of getting back to what’s real and meaningful in relationships. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. Actually, I’ve thought about that most of my life. But deciding what I value and why has been an evolving process.
I grew up in an angry, abusive, life-denying family that, for a long time afterward, drove me to wander like an orphan through situations, mistrusting folks, and staying only long enough to gather resources and strength for the next leg of the journey. I passed as a sojourner through jobs, friends, relationships, colleges, groups, “vocations,” and cities.
I was like a wolf cub, wounded and endlessly moving, looking for a home, but never recognizing where I was as “home.” Along the way, although I had no skills for staying put, I developed really good survival skills, and “street smarts” from the struggles. In His time, God turned those skills into Wisdom.
Some things have been constant. I have always had a personal, ongoing conversation with a God I had learned, as a kid, to discuss things with, no matter what was happening. Most of the time, I did the talking. During my college years, I took classes on listening… During my monastic years, I learned to listen…
My wandering stopped when I came to central Pennsylvania. I now believe that the Lord led me here, drew me “home” to a faith community, and healed me, then invited me to help Him heal other wandering wolf cubs in His flock.
And finally, I have found clarity; what is important has become simpler. Today for me, it’s all about relationship–loving, honoring, helping, healing, restoring, supporting, and community. I still feel as if I need to be “marginal.” A wonderful old Benedictine monk once told me that Christianity lived in its fullest, requires us to live “apart” even in the middle of community.
I feel as though I have the soul of a hermit…born and called to live apart from the trappings of consumerism. For the most part, I do that. But some things–like a car, a radio, a computer, a bank account, and other normal everyday needs (like clothes!)–are necessary to function in the world.
What gives me joy now are friendships, helping folks cope, listening to nature’s morning and evening songs, critters that come by to visit, music, writing, crafts, prayer, meditation, worship, exotic foods, and white pizza!
But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard–things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments. Galatians 5:22