|Crossing the mountains in Northern Baja, Mexico|
When I was in high school I had a Pee Chee folder on which I'd written in tiny letters many of my favorite quotes. This one was, not surprisingly, by Edgar Allen Poe. (A favorite with all angst-ridden teenaged girls, right?)
The last year or two of my life has been punctuated by a lot of going through our things, sorting, organizing, paring down. I've gotten rid of a lot, with the motivation not only to simplify life in this home, but also to move towards our dream of picking up and leaving, doing some traveling, settling down somewhere else along the way. "Picking up and leaving" sounds so simple, like something you aspire to one day and accomplish the next. But when you've spent years settling in, getting comfortable, making a home, it takes a whole lot of hard work to get to the point where you can actually leave. There's all this stuff, for one thing, and commitments, and a mortgage. You don't just cast all that off in a day.
In between cooking and teaching and sorting and reading to kids and the thousand other things I do in a day, I'm reading a novel called Peace Like a River. A paragraph or two here, a chapter there, stolen moments. It's all at once humorous and haunting and the sort of story that carries you along and pulls you in and makes you hope and hurt and rejoice with its characters. I want to write like Leif Enger someday, in a way that makes people see what I'm seeing and feel what I feel, that awakens in them a yearning, that carries them to another place.
"Cash was a difficulty, so he commenced to lay hold of unattached items around the house and sell them, doing so with an impish glee. His bedroom mirror went first, a useless piece of furniture given who owned it, and it brought three dollars, which turned into fifteen cans of pork and beans from the Red Owl. The beans went into the deep, mesmerizing pantry of the Airstream; a monstrous and comforting hole, you could stack food in there all morning. Dad next sold two pine dressers for five dollars each- he bought a case of Dinty Moore, two canned hams, some hash. He sold a creeper long used to get under the Plymouth and change the oil- one dollar, eight cans of chicken noodle. Each day familiar things went away from us; each day Dad, normally lackadaisical about commerce, tallied up the take and what food it might procure. Faith brought this about. Faith, as Dad saw it, had delivered unto us the Airstream trailer, and faith would direct our travels." -Leif Enger, Peace Like a River
I loved this paragraph; it's a pivotal point in the story where the tide has turned from one of paralysis to one of hope-filled action. Surely anyone who has pulled up stakes for a life of unknown adventure can relate to this. If I sell this or that it will be enough to live for three days in Mexico. I could spend this much money on going out for a meal here, or we could eat for days in India. It's a mental trading game, giving up something here and now, whether selling it or choosing not to buy it, for a thing we desire more. It's an intentional going against the current of a society that veritably screams at us to get what we want and get more of it and get it now. Of course the spiritual parallels here are huge as well.
The time has come for me to start going through what's left, and there's still plenty of it. Those things that were hanging around until the last moment will be finding new homes soon. We have taken the step of putting our home on the market. We've spoken to a couple of realtors who've encouraged us that the market has turned around in our area and that this is a great time to sell. I know that it could still be a while, but we're taking what steps we can to be ready for action. Our spiritual father exhorted us to pray each step of the way and trust that God will guide. We can always look back and see how He has walked before us, and now we continue on, trusting that He leads the way.
And so we take this next step, in faith. It's exciting, and sometimes a bit scary, like rappelling off the side of a cliff. You know perfectly well your rope is secure but, well, there's nothing natural about stepping backwards off a cliff. Why would you even want to do such a thing? Your body and mind have to wrestle a bit, mind telling body what to do, until that moment when you just step. This is much like the working out of a dream, faith and fear seeking to fill the same space. Why would we sell our home and give up a secure job in order to pursue a life that is largely unknown? There are many reasons, but I won't get into them at the moment. We're getting closer to stepping off the cliff, and I know we are held firmly in strong hands that will not let us go.