I was born, by God's dear grace,
in an extra-ordinary place
I suppose most people feel that way about their home, wherever it may be in the world. I happen to think its true about my place in the world not only because of how much I love it, but by how often "outsiders" are seduced by its beauty. At this point, my family is pretty firmly rooted there.
Except me. I moved more than 3000 miles away a few months after I turned 18. I spent a couple of years on the island of Oahu, a couple of years on the beautiful coast of central California, and a little over five years in the wide, flat, fruitful San Joaquin Valley. Those are all pretty awesome places, to be sure. But they're all a teensy bit less awesome than the Mission Valley, nestled in the mountains of western Montana. In all those years, getting to know and falling in love with other places, letting them become "my place" to various degrees, the longing for the first place, the place that had such a huge role in shaping me into the person I am, never entirely went away. The desire for my children to know it in even a small degree the way that I did never went away.
I was grateful that the trials of the past couple years allowed me the opportunity to be in that place again, and to share it with these little people I love so much. We had to leave again. But this time, not so far, to a place not altogether unfamiliar or dissimilar. I'm grateful for that, too.
I used to view people who "went wherever the wind blows" them as a bit flaky, unappreciative and selfish. I like to explore--I love going new places and experiencing new things--but I always was keenly aware of the advantages of having a firm home base, a place one returns to and makes a life, connected to others in that place in meaningful ways--especially for children. Taking pride in not being firmly rooted anywhere seems foolish to me.
At the same time, I have seen the danger in being so dedicated to a place, one is unwilling to leave it, even when one should. Lot's wife would be the ultimate example, I suppose, but there are less dramatic examples in abundance. And maybe its not that one must leave a place because its a bad place, but simply because the Lord needs you somewhere else.
As we have hopped from Hawaii to San Luis to Lindsay to Mission to Anaconda, I have felt very much that we have been doing the right thing, that we have been where we are supposed to be, in the best possible places for us at that time in our lives, as much as I would love to have one place that we can just buy a house, near family, and stay put. I am often resistant to change, and it hasn't always been easy for me to make the jumps. The first night in Lindsay, we stopped at the store late at night and I stayed in the car with the sleeping kids and started to cry a little because I just kept thinking to myself "What am I doing here? I don't want to be here." (Admittedly, the crying probably had as much to do with the fact that I had a six-week-old baby and was tired and hormonal, but still). The place was new to me (and at that point still looked pretty rough), I didn't know anyone, and I was a long, long ways from "my" place and "my" people. But I adjusted my attitude, because I was confident that we were where the Lord wanted us, so I was determined to be happy about it. Five and half years later, leaving that place and the people there was one of the hardest things I've ever done.
Had I not been willing to go where the Lord directed us, I never would've known the joy of being in that particular place at that particular time with that particular group of people, where I learned more in five years than I ever thought possible. I was able to be part of something special and unique, to see all kinds of miracles large and small. I will always be grateful to my Heavenly Father for leading us to that place.
And as I thought about that, it occurred to me that the only reason I was able to grow up firmly rooted in such a beautiful place was that I had ancestors who were willing to go when the Lord required it. I have great-great grandparents who left their home countries and crossed oceans in order to follow the Lord's will. I have great-great grandparents who crossed cold, uncivilized plains, build houses and settle down only to leave their at-long-last-established homes to settle once again in a new country. When ultimately expelled from that country due to internal violence, they gradually made their way north, to settle in the beautiful Mission Valley with their families, building homes and ranches and business and a previously non-existant ward.
I have been so abundantly blessed by the cheerful willingness with which my forbears said to the Lord, "I'll go where you want me to go". I can only hope that my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be half as blessed if I can say it with as much cheerfulness myself. For now, I will be content to feel the peaceful confidence of confirmation that we are where we are supposed to be right now.