Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Speed Blind Dating

Josh and I have no problem committing to people. We like people. Seriously. We like you. Relationships seem to offer far more joy, flexibility and overall opportunities for growth than other kinds of commitments. People don't require rent. We don't have to sign a contract to be considered friends. Usually. You don't pay taxes on friendships. You can be dead broke and still be a good friend. If you decide to go on a trip or move to a different time zone, you don't have to leave your friend behind if you don't want to. Hint, hint. Nudge, nudge. See how wonderful it is?!
Committing to a place, for us, seems tougher. We're reticent. And yet, as we discovered living in LastHomeTown, USA (our current record for place commitment), relationships are deepened, far richer, when you stick near people you're committing to. Maintaining friendships we cherish becomes a seamless part of life and survival. We lived next to strangers who became some of our closest friends. We saw them every day. Meals between families were shared at least three times a week. #IMissMexicanFood! Our children played, fought and grew together. 'Twas lovely. Sticking to one place allows you to find steady, well-paid work (as a general rule, with noted exceptions), find a comfortable rhythm in your day-to-day, establish foundations from which to spring and build. Establish yourselves. I can't figure out if those are cultural desires or human desires. Should I want those things? Am I going to screw up my kids if I never manage to have those things? A foundation. A home. What is, really, ultimately important?
I can't remember now what I was Googling this morning, but as I looked through my tabs, this quote from 'Abdu'l-Baha was at the top of one. I began to read:

"O ye homeless and wanderers in the Path of God! Prosperity, contentment, and freedom, however much desired and conducive to the gladness of the human heart, can in no wise compare with the trials of homelessness and adversity in the pathway of God; for such exile and banishment are blessed by the divine favour, and are surely followed by the mercy of Providence. The joy of tranquillity in one's home, and the sweetness of freedom from all cares shall pass away, whilst the blessings of homelessness shall endure forever, and its far-reaching results shall be made manifest."
Man, I thought, those first things--prosperity, contentment and freedom--sound really, really nice. And who doesn't want oodles of gladness in their heart or the joy of tranquility? Sign me up. Let's find a home to commit to. But those can't compare to being a homeless wanderer? What?! Sounds like the difference between eating chocolate souffle on a beautiful plate with those decorative syrup swirls as live music plays--delicious, temporarily happy inducing--and lima beans from a broken pot cooked over a fire while bugs bite your backside--difficult to swallow, but supposedly good for your health and character, eventually. Okay, a horrible comparison, I admit. But my mind is small and feeble. 'Abdu'l-Baha continues:
"Abraham's migration from His native land caused bountiful gifts of the All-Glorious to be made manifest, and the setting of Canaan's brightest star unfolded to the eyes the radiance of Joseph. The flight of Moses, the Prophet of Sinai, revealed the Flame of the Lord's burning Fire, and the rise of Jesus breathed the breaths of the Holy Spirit into the world. The departure of Muhammad, the Beloved of God, from the city of His birth was the cause of the exaltation of God's Holy Word, and the banishment of the Sacred Beauty led to the diffusion of the light of His divine Revelation throughout all regions.
Take ye good heed, O people of insight!"*

Surely, I am lower than nothing in contrast to the Prophets of God. It's probably arrogant of me to even write that sentence. I don't pretend to know "what Jesus would do." And I don't consider myself terribly insightful. Perhaps, then, we should attempt committing to a place. I want to go on blind dates with possible places. See how we feel within a few hours time. Blind speed dating. Sounds slightly dangerous. Or exciting (depending on your willingness to fall on your face). People keep telling us it doesn't work that way. You don't know if you'll like a place until you've been there a while. A year, at least. Is it important to "like" a place? Or are we supposed to go where there is a need we can fill (translation: sane people don't want to live there anyway)?
And here we are. As I continue to struggle with this, knowing ultimately that its not as simple as either being a homeless wanderer or establishing ourselves somewhere, the following is our current working list of possible home addresses, in no particular order (to be added to or subtracted from at any moment):
Nagua
San Francisco de Macoris
San Juan de la Maguana
La Vega
Santiago

What say you?

*‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, pp. 280-281

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