changing places and a new perspective

Mt. Si by hermitsmoores (Flickr)

Home. It’s where the heart is, according to pithy remarks. But certainly the term evokes sentimental feelings of coziness, of feeling warm and safe and comforted. I might add that’s it’s a place of community, be it family, friends, or others that help engage you become your best, grow, and love in deeper and more authentic ways. So what does that mean for someone who moved to a new state two weeks ago?

As for initial thoughts, this is a great place for us. I’m continually in awe by the sheer number of green trees around us. Initially I thought I was seeing the same mountain from different angles and then realized that this place is surrounded by different mountains, and that real estate agents didn’t magnify their size in their listings. We drove along a highway lined with trees today and picked blueberries at the base of Mt. Si, and (pun intended), I sighed. It’s nice to feel like this could be home.

I recognize that this is merely a first impression, a sprint in a marathon, as it were. And I have some concerns about how this will feel in a few months, when it’s gray and the novelty is gone. But being new to an area (read: near friendless) lends itself to a discipline I did not expect: one of learning to be alone. In our society we connect at every level, from texts to emails to calls to Facebook (or google +) or…. Not only is it easy to feel constantly “in touch”, it’s hard to escape it. Only because I nearly maxed out my data plan and didn’t have dsl at home until last night have I sat still, journalled when the kids are asleep, and let the schedule stay as empty as it is. Lo and behold, it feels good.

I’ve noted that when I give up Facebook for Lent that I love that freedom that comes from not compulsively reading status updates. (I know I’m not the only one to read back until I reach the previous updates, right?) The last couple of weeks amplified that feeling exponentially. I was essentially on a media fast, aside from a random email or phone call here and there. Maybe I should call it a cleanse, for it does allow me to start afresh. During this time I’ve thought more and more about what it means to choose a slower, simpler lifestyle, both for me and my family. I’ve noted that as long as I have one real conversation with an adult (aside from my husband) per day I’m ok. (This is shocking to extroverted me.) Coupled with my above embrace of less media consumption and I begin to see why families might choose a totally counter-cultural lifestyle and drive an RV around the country. My mind can race down this road, until I hit a major roadblock.

What’s this roadblock, you ask? It’s that all the above is about ME. About how I feel. About what feels good to Coleen and how life centers around me. Don’t misunderstand, I do think the above lessons are paramount in living the life I want to live, that is free from encumbrances, that recognizes that only heaven will truly be home, that makes decisions intentionally. But what is also paramount in the above (and takes me back to my definition of home) is that this life is lived in relationship with others. When I said that I only needed one “real” conversation a day, it was with people with whom I have enjoyed hours of chatting in the past. We develop friendships with love and time, and only by choosing to do that here will I ever feel like I’m at home. So as much as I might long to be the turtle carrying my shell on my back (and retreating whenever I sense danger) I know that here in Seattle (area) I choose to invest in this new place, in smiles, with neighbors, with a church community. And I pray that, someday, as best it can, it will be home.

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