Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian Love
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above —John Fawcett
I’ve been hearing folks talk about building houses recently. They talk about the decisions that they made about layout and design and the front door and all the other doors as well. I’m pretty sure the front door of our house was designed to never be used. The Randall homestead in Phenix City was built with all of those decisions in mind. I’ve been to visit so many times that it is the only place that feels like a home I could claim. I know the details of that house as if I had lived in it. But I’ve never lived there.
I have a tether that connects me there, I know it, I have uncountable memories of growing up there and being an adult there. But I don’t plan to ever live in Alabama.
Folks around here who build their homes are planning to stay. They are planning to raise children and grandchildren in the house, celebrating and rejoicing in the land that they find familiar. This is home for them.
For me, the tethers here are not so strong. The closest I’ve gotten is building a garden, and due to a series of trips out of town, it didn’t turn out so well. I love it here, I have found friends and come to learn this place as home. But some April will come when I will get the call, and we will be moving to some other place of ministry. I hope that April is a long way off.
While I’m here, I’m bound here. I’m tied to this place. I choose to be. It is the best way I know how to do ministry.
If I was to always be thinking about my next placement, my next ministry, my next churches, then I would never be able to be truly present here. I’d rather choose to be present here. I’d rather celebrate the relationships here. I’d rather rejoice in the new lives and deep revelations that people are making in this time and in this place.
I’ve tethered myself here. It is a temporary tether, but it is strong. The tether is founded on the relationships I’ve cultivated. God began them, and I have sought to keep them healthy. Sometimes, like our trial garden last summer, the weeds have gotten thicker than I intended. But that garden surprised us: the deer never found it. The plants woven among the weeds were just as strong as if they had been in a well tended and watered plot.
Not that I should ignore relationships with my friends here, but I trust that if a few things are occasionally forgotten that they will be able to grow back to full strength with some careful tending. I can’t do everything, no matter how hard I want to or try.
So while I am at it, I keep tending the garden. I want the harvest to be plentiful. I want to gain the sustenance from a generous harvest. To get there I’ll have to keep working the land. I’ll have to remember where I am.
What will serve as the best reminder is that I can remember whose I am. I remember that I am not the true Gardener, but only one who helps to care for the garden. I allow my tethers to grow strong. I work at cultivating the ties of love between those around me. Some are planning on living here the rest of their lives. Some will have to move to find new opportunities. We can all choose to learn to grow deeper and stronger and more tighter knit together. In Love.