Hard to believe this is the last day of our trip. It has been an incredibly good time. Lots of good family time (and we all still like each other after 11 days of traveling together! Miracle of miracles!) and lots of good reflective time.
My class at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary? was particularly good. It was called “Performing the Faith” and was mix of performance theory with reflections on the practical application of the idea of performance and ritual in the context of the church.
I had an unexpected take-away message from the class (which I should say is still going on, the online component continues for another month), namely that my calling is in large part to preach and teach. I love speaking but have held back from pursuing this seriously due to insecurity. But it is very clear that this is what I am most passionate about (and frankly is one of the parts of lawyering that I still enjoy, despite my jaded disenchantment with the professional generally).
I don’t know what the future holds for me. I love my church but we are full of good speakers. Our pastor delivers excellent thought provoking messages three times a month, which leaves 1-2 messages for others to speak. Our
other church members are also excellent speakers, who speak from the heart not only about matters of faith but about the practical implications of Jesus’ revolutionary nonviolent teachings RIGHT NOW (we are decidedly not a “pie in the sky by and by” kind of church). So I don’t want to take away from that by asking to speak more than I already do.
But I also can’t imagine leaving my church. It is a real family to me and has sustained me for a long time. Maybe there will be a time that I would need to serve elsewhere but now is not that time.
So I’m trying to think creatively. Maybe about finding a non-traditional venue to preach, maybe online or maybe on a time other than Sunday mornings.
Besides vocational stuff, I’m also thinking a lot about my family. We had a good time on this trip, despite the fact that we often didn’t get enough sleep and were having to navigate lots of minor challenging situations (i.e. the Chicago Union train station). I think this trip went well because we decided to craft our trip based on our preferences and not on anyone else’s expectations. We took the train (a glorious way to travel if you aren’t too time crunched) but rented a car when we got to Indiana. We spent our free time (for me mostly in the evenings and afternoons when class wasn’t in session, while my wife and son had extra time to explore when I was in class) doing little things that we enjoyed.
And so the highlights of the trip are small moments like the glorious food served family-style at Amish Acres in Nepanee, the Wakarusa “Dime” Candy store (no longer priced at a dime but still loads of fun), the Venturi pizza in Goshen and the little museums like the Comic and Superheroes museum, the Midwestern Museum of American Art and the NY Central Railroad museum (all in Elkhart), as well as the the Menno-Hof Museum in Shipshewana (my son was very insistent that he and Mamma go there early in the trip because “I want to learn how to be a Mennnonite today!), and of course the beautiful quilt gardens all over the region.
And that’s just the highlights… I still haven’t yet talked about other moments like the awesome (and cheap — only 99 cents!) authentic tacos from the Mexican grocery store north of the AMBS campus, and getting to have my family be at chapel when my class led worship on Friday. Oh and the wonderful stores in Shipshewana! Yoder’s Meat & Cheese, Yoder’s Hardware (which sells all kinds of kitschy awesomeness) and Yoder’s Department store — yes, apparently everything in Shipshewana is named after a Yoder or so it seems.
And we celebrated Shabbat! It was a simple affair in the student housing apartment we were staying at — little electric tea candles (easier to travel with), triscuits for the bread and a little bit of wine and juice (the juice came from the Mexican grocery store), but we still said the blessings and sung our songs together as a family.
There was just so much that happened, and yet all of these things were little, not big. There were no big amusement parks and nothing flashy. But it was right for us.
And so that is the other big lesson I’m taking away from this trip. Be true to yourself, but also to your family. I think that finding the right family rhythm is the key to happy travels, and I’m assuming happiness back home as well.
We have a couple more hours on this train (right now we are somewhere between Dallas and Fort Worth, TX), and then another train back to Oklahoma. I’m hoping I can carry this good feeling with me for the coming days. Life at home poses a different set of complications but I’m hoping I can keep coming back to this idea of a good rhythm to keep me going on the right path.