Moving is brutal.
This is not a new revelation for me, as over the last 3 decades, I have switched locales more than the Bedouins.
As an adult, I twice moved from Connecticut to Providence and, once in Rhode Island, moved apartments twice more before finally settling into my first married home. Maine and Michigan were next, and, while in Michigan, I moved from a rental home to a split level, all the while accumulating children and belongings.
Following that came New Hampshire: 2 moves in Henniker, from a cramped dorm space surrounded by hostile party-ers, I mean, college students (they resented the loss of their common room, now occupied by toddlers and pre-schoolers, whose schedules were wildly incompatible with their own), then to a Cape my family and I occupied for only 8 months. I lost the shade to a favorite lamp there and, unwilling to give up the lamp or buy a new shade, I boxed up the lamp and ultimately reunited it with its shade – 2 moves later.
From Henniker, the fam moved into a 5-bedroom in Durham with a deck, a yard, and a pool; a year later, a fire forced us across town to a rental (it had a skating pond! and bears!) while wrangling with our insurance company to repair our gutted original home. When they finally complied, it had been beautifully restored, but had somehow lost a bedroom.
Post-divorce, I was forced to sell this wonderful place – my best friend lived two doors down – and split my time between a tiny 2-bedroom in Raymond and my work/dorm apartment in Canaan.
In the midst of all that, I also chose to live for six months in a tent with a squirmy 10-year-old, a different place every night between Georgia and Maine.
Let’s just say I’ve moved a lot.
And while I realize there are people who do this routinely their whole lives – Coasties, for example, or serial killers – let’s just say I’m ready to stay put for a while.
This past week, I moved yet again, across campus, this time into the first floor of a spacious farm house that my school owns. It looks out across a wide expanse of field and is bordered by woods on one side and a clear mountain stream on the other. There’s storage for my bikes and gear, lots of tall windows, a screened-in porch.
My personal Promised Land.
This last move, however, was the one that almost broke me.
Nothing really prepares you – not even multiple previous moves – for the chaos of switching spaces.
I enlisted the help of many for the big day: my son and son-in-law, handsome Samsons who can throw couches around like confetti; my brother Rick, the one with the truck; my daughter who, despite being half-way through her first pregnancy, lifted and dragged like a champ; my son-in-law’s two sisters, 11 and 16, sturdy Georgian girls not intimidated by a box of books; my colleague from across the quad; and two of my students and their mom, who were kind enough to show up during their summer vacation in the pouring rain. *
I’d like to say I managed this eclectic group with grace and kindness, but the ugly truth is, I was impatient and snippy and completely overwhelmed.
Furniture arrived, rain-drenched, before I could decide upon a final resting place. Unlabeled boxes had to be dug through to know where they belonged. The newly-installed rug was christened by traffic, and not in a good way.
Despite being barked at by me, my helpers remained optimistic and energetic, hauling things back and forth and up and down, until at last all that remained in the old apartment were the cats and the litter box.
Cat, actually. We lost one for a while.
I am comforted in remembering that the story of God’s people is one of constant movement.
Abraham, faithful father of nations, was told by God: “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1)
So he went, not knowing where he was going or what he would find there. But he knew God, knew His heart.
Abraham trusted that God had a purpose in uprooting him, and that the magnitude of the blessing that awaited him would far outweigh any inconvenience.
And so, too, must we trust. We never know where God might move us, but His placement is always secure.
My pastor reminded us this Sunday of the profound goodness of having a roof over our head. 150 million people on planet earth do not have a home, and 1.6 billion live in subpar housing.
What can one person do in the face of such crisis?
A lot, actually.
Sponsor a child.
Help build a home.
Feed the poor.
If all of us do something, even just one thing, we can raise roofs for the needy across the street or across the globe. Be their neighbor.
I’m happy to be settled into my new place. I’m guessing it will take the rest of the summer to unpack and get things in order, the way I like them.
I’m hopeful that this long season of moving is over, and I can rest for a while, secure in His placement but willing to go, should He need.
Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
Will bring her into the wilderness,
And speak comfort to her.
I will give her her vineyards from there,
And the Valley of Achor as a door of hope;
She shall sing there,
As in the days of her youth,
As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt. (Hosea 2:14,15)
*To Rick, Caleb, Maddy, Hannah, Eden, Trish, Caden, Spencer, Pat, and Owen: thank you and I’m sorry.