Love does not stay idle

Love does not stay idle.” -St. Catherine of Siena (from Letter T82)

This is my 100th post on this blog, and to celebrate I thought I’d write a brief manifesto of sorts–a window into who I am and why I do what I do.

As I wrote earlier in my story about staying in the Abbey of St. Hildegard of Bingen, I am aligned to be out in the world, in relationship and direct service with people.

Translating that into religious language, my calling is to Love God and Love Neighbor.

Out of God’s great love, grace, and redemption, I find a love that cannot be kept inside. I am compelled to love my neighbor. I am compelled to love and serve people throughout this country and world.

This means I will seek work that is fulfilling and servant-oriented. So far, for me this has been manifest in pastoral care, spiritual direction, direct service with the poor and homeless, dismantling racism, intentional community, and global service.

The work need not be overtly religious, because I know that loving one’s neighbor transcends religion and theology. One need not be religious to know the longing to love and be loved. One need not be religious to serve and have relationship to our neighbors.

What I write here comes from moments of grace I believe are worth sharing, the stories of life and relationship.

Grace is in the brief time I spent with Suon in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Grace is in the relationship to my Indonesian brother. Grace is in participating in weddings and funerals, hearing people’s hope for their country, and meeting a fellow pilgrim. And so much more.

This means that in my work and in my travel, I am motivated out of grace and love, and a desire to enjoy this amazing earth. It is my privilege to be able to share some those experiences on this blog.

Love does not stay idle.

Visiting the hospital in Balige, North Sumatra, Indonesia with the students.
Visiting the hospital in Balige, North Sumatra, Indonesia with the students. April 2012.
Sunday devotion with elderly group, village of Marihat Tiga, North Sumatra, Indonesia. May 2012.
Sunday devotion with elderly group, village of Marihat Tiga, North Sumatra, Indonesia. May 2012.
Meeting Krishna (far right) and his companions. Kumily, Kerala, India. January 2009.
Meeting Krishna (far right) and his companions. Kumily, Kerala, India. January 2009.

Twenty-Two

For a little bit of insight into the past year of my life, I share this number. Twenty-two is the number of US states I have been to since September 2010. Well, the number is actually 23 counting the District of Columbia, which isn’t a state (but should be).

Here they are, in no particular order: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, North Dakota, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee, and Kentucky. The final four being states I hadn’t been to before.

How is it that I managed to visit nearly half the 50 US states within 12 months? Mostly because I had a temporary job as a traveling recruiter for the Lutheran Volunteer Corps (LVC), something similar to AmeriCorps. For six months, between September ’10 and February ’11, I was paid to travel, back and forth from DC (where LVC’s main office is located), to universities across the country, seeking young people interested in committing a year of their lives to intentional community, sustainability, and social justice.

For the job, I traveled via planes, trains, and automobiles; I attended career fairs, some specifically for non-profits/service work; held a few information sessions; sat at tables during lunch time; met with campus ministries; contacted career centers at universities LVC had never been to before; and, of course, spent many hours planning travel arrangements, and contacting various people.

10-28-10_IMG_3571It was seriously an amazing (and at times, stressful) series of trips: places in WI, IL, IN, OH in early October; southern CA in late October; MN, IA, and NE in Nov; San Francisco, the Bay Area, and Fargo, ND in early February; TN and GA in late Feb; and many more in between. In the months since returning to Seattle in March, I have traveled quite a bit too, though not nearly as often.

Why does this matter now? In many ways, I have not had the typical year: I left my home in Seattle, packed most of my belongings into storage, and spend half of the six month job living in DC and the other half on the road. Travel has, of course, always been a passion of mine, and I already was well-traveled. This position offered me the unique opportunity to combine work with travel—to talk about an organization I care about, while seeing friends and family along the way.

As I reflect on what it will mean to leave the country for 2 years, I am grateful for all the time to see cities, family, and friends across the country I would otherwise have not been able to see in a year’s time, and could not afford to see now.

The travel in twenty-two states (plus DC) stirred discernment within me, and the decision to apply for global mission became clear just days after returning to Seattle in March. Global mission had been on my mind for a number of years, and I realized this was the time to go for it.

So tonight I give thank to a stressful, yet amazing year of opportunity, blessing, and travel, and look forward to the years to come.