Lots of my thoughts in 2009 have teased away at the snarl of "what is it I'm supposed to be doing here in this world". I love Appleton, I love my friends here, I love my church family, I have an amazing job that I absolutely find fulfilling, challenging and meaningful. Aspects of my life ARE hard, but as I look at it in comparison to what the rest of the world faces, I really have so much more to be thankful for than otherwise. And what, really, do I want to see when/if I'm 80 and looking back on it?
I know the next "appropriate" statement for a post like this would be "Enter Liberia" - suddenly all that changes and falls into place and gives me meaning and purpose and direction. There's something to that. The times in my life when I've felt most at peace, most purposeful, have been when my whole life - at that moment - is focused on being where I am and doing my best within that context. The two weeks before my dad died. The weeks I've spent in St. Louis. The two weeks in Tajikistan. Even backpacking trips and travel. I love that feeling of, "I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be, doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing, right here, right now." All the complexity of my every day life (much of which, I'm sure, I bring on myself!), can be addressed and simplified by how it relates to the purpose at hand. It also gives a basis from which to deal with what's difficult about the situation (from being physically "discomfy" to extreme gut-wrenching emotion). I'm not - of course - looking at this 2-year project as delivering two solid, non-stop years of that sense of purpose, but I'm thinking there would be good doses of it.
Actually, the thought of Liberia has already given me some of that. When you have the possibility of that magnitude potentially looming in front of you, it does make many decisions easier, even when its tentative. Because to some degree, considering the possibility means you make some decisions as if it's a certainty.
But (and you knew there was a "but" coming, right?) all of that is hardly reason enough to completely up-end one's life! So then - what exactly IS reason enough to do so? What scale there that will consistently measure "yea"s and "nay"s until it eventually reaches a tipping point of solid decision-making assurance? Pfffooof!
So, for right now, I'm
- praying. Asking God to give me a clear indication, increased direction, circumstances falling into place, a sense of peace about one direction or the other.
- listening. Seeking thoughts and insights from folks around me, who know me well and care.
- moving forward. Taking steps toward making it a reality; watching to see if doors bang shut in my face or swing silently open. So far, no major bangs!
- learning. Sifting through the plethora of information on Liberia to gather the bits that yield understanding of what life there is like. Picking Mustafa's brain to learn all I can about the project, about Shelter for Life, about Liberia from his perspective.
Today I drove to Fond du Lac to meet Jen and Mustafa for brunch (they're in Milwaukee with family for the weekend). Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Liberia's president, spoke at the University of Minnesota yesterday and they got to hear her, so I got to hear about that and we also discussed more possible logistics (there's a chance Jen would come and help get things set up at the first part of the project - how cool would that be!). We had a lovely time as we always do when together, and I feel like I've gone a few more inches down the path....