This week, I’m meditating on the ways Jesus has met me at each of the places I’ve lived. As best as I can count, I’ve lived on sixteen different streets. Here’s my list so far:
- Hidden Pond*
- Diamond Oaks*
- Highland Crest
- Howard St
- College Ave
- National St
- Geneva Rd
- Rue Omar El Khayyem
- Rue Ibn El Jazzar
I’ve put an asterisk by each of the places I stayed for longer than one consecutive year. It’s been a long time since I lived at one of those…
My streets only tell half of the story though. Our family migrated back and forth—south to north, north to south—every year. If I included all our summer moves, I could say I’ve moved almost thirty times.
Moving is super emotional for me. I know the drill, but that doesn’t make it easy. When I think about moving, I think about words like temporary, uncertain, and pilgrimage.
Because my life is so transitory, I don’t buy very much furniture. I own a bed frame, a mattress, and a bookshelf. Whenever I think about purchasing something heavy, I ask myself, “Would I want to have to move that?” Most of the time, the answer is no.
My one exception is my library. I acquire and transport an absurd number of books from apartment to apartment each year. And every time as I pack them up, I page through each one, remembering the friends I made inside. It takes me the better part of a day to pack my books.
As a young teen, I was convinced that moving was God’s way of teaching me a character lesson. If I could truly surrender my desires and learn to be content, maybe God would bless our family and allow us to return to the city I liked best. I was constantly disappointed in myself for failing to arrive at a place of lasting surrender.
Moving is still hard, but Jesus and I are in a better place now. When I left the states to live overseas last year, I took one key with me—the key to my church. That key reminded me that even when I don’t know where I will be sleeping in a month, six months, or a year, I have a home at the altar. No amount of chaos, confusion, controversy, or broken trust (of which there has been plenty lately) can ever change what happens in that eucharistic moment. Augustine famously wrote that our hearts are restless till they find their rest in Him. I find that rest most tangibly when I am kneeling at the altar. At the altar I don’t have to worry about my next apartment. I don’t have to keep trying to be good enough. As I cup my hands to receive the body and blood of Christ, Jesus makes his home in me.
The prayer of humble access says it perfectly:
We do not presume to come to this your table, O merciful Lord,
trusting in our own righteousness,
but in your abundant and great mercies.
We are not worthy so much as to gather up
the crumbs under your table;
but you are the same Lord
whose character is always to have mercy.
Grant us, therefore, gracious Lord,
so to eat the flesh of your dear Son Jesus Christ,
and to drink his blood,
that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body,
and our souls washed through his most precious blood,
and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.