“And I could not have known then that if I had been born here, I would have left here, gone someplace south to deal with horses, to get on some open land where you can see tomorrow’s storm brewing over a high desert. I could not have known then that everybody, every person, has to leave, has to change like seasons; they have to or they die. The seasons remind me that I must keep changing, and I want to change because it is God’s way. …Everybody has to change, or they expire. Everybody has to leave, everybody has to leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons. …And so my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children in a play. My hope is your story will be about changing, about getting something beautiful born inside of you, about learning to love a woman or a man, about learning to love a child, about moving yourself around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn’t it? It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out. I want to repeat one word for you: Leave.”
~ Donald Miller, Through Painted Deserts
I’ve never had a ‘here’. I’ve never had a place long enough to really leave. All my places have started with the knowledge of leaving soon. Or sometime at the longest. My whole life has been changing and leaving. It’s what defines me. But that’s all surface.
I haven’t actually ever changed or left. My ‘here’ is actually multiple ‘theres’. My changing is actually my staying. Changing situations, leaving places is my normalcy, my comfort zone. It’s what I know how to do easily.
To unpack boxes, not knowing when, if ever, I’d pack them again would be to change. To invest in some furniture, some artwork, and plant a garden would be to leave. To think in two-, three-, or more-year increments would be to change. To hug my friends’ children on their birthdays instead of sending ecards, would be to leave.
Maybe when I learn to ‘change’, when I am brave enough to take that step to ‘leave’, something beautiful will have time to be born and develop inside me, I’ll learn how to love a man and a child, be surrounded by friends, love others more than myself. Faintly, faintly, although I’ve successfully and painfully ignored it in the past, I hear the whisper, “Stay. Be.”