I am sitting at a writing desk right now in a little closet office adjoining the guest room I am occupying for nearly two weeks. I’ve been here for three nights already and it’s only just starting to feel real. So I am here to tell the story of how I got here. Because our God is too faithful not to document His goodness.
Just over six weeks ago I was riding down I-10 with my sister at midnight, listening to the latest album from Jonathan David and Melissa Helser. At the beginning of “Cageless Birds” Melissa recites a poem that grabbed my heart and would not let go.
Standing on the shore of decision
looking into the face of adventure
desire to abandon all I know
what pushes me is rooted somewhere between misunderstanding and knowing
knowing that what I want to understand is not within my reach
so I ponder my escape
not knowing what lies ahead
adventure in theory is full of excitement and bleeds with passion for life
but adventure in reality is full of breathless moments
silent nights, and wounds that leave scars of memory on a heart
can I go the distance?
can I give all my mind to get what the messenger is saying?
can I surrender my knowing?
will I survive the humility of ignorance to obtain a treasure that earthly gold cannot buy?
will I ask the question honestly
even if the answer convicts my soul and sends me to the land of repentance?
All of these thoughts flood my mind…
as I stand on the shore of choosing
in the distance of my wondering I see with clear eyes a flock of wild, beautiful birds
swooping in my direction
as if they see me and are coming for me
how strange it is that their eyes are full of clarity…
Song birds wake up
you’re not in your cage anymore
bound by your shame anymore
the walls that held you in prison
the gate is flung wide open
start singing, start singing, start singing, start singing
I’ve felt for several months like I am in a state of transition, but I wasn’t sure of the exact direction I was to go. All the doors I pushed on seemed firmly shut. I wasn’t sure what to do next, but the restlessness in me was relentless. That night on I-10 a moment of clarity came swiftly. I decided to try to apply for the Helser’s 18 Inch Journey program even though they’d stopped accepting applications months before. My age will disqualify me to apply next year and I at least had to ask if there was any shadow of possibility that would allow me to attend.
Unfortunately, the answer was no, the 18 Inch Journey was not accepting applications. But that moment of clarity was not fruitless. Asking the question was a proving ground, a test to determine if I would seriously consider leaving behind my comfortable life for a period of time before stepping into the next stage of my life, site unseen. There were other options.
I’d read about L’Abri several years ago from a blogger who attended. Studying theology in the shadow of the Swiss Alps seemed too far fetched a dream for anyone without a trust fund. But I visited the site again and after a few quick calculations realized that spending a couple of months there wasn’t as far out of my reach as I assumed. It was comparable to what I was prepared to spend with the 18 Inch Journey. So, after just a week of thinking about it and talking it out with my sister, I sent off an inquiry to L’Abri, just to see if they had a spot available for the dates I was considering. I didn’t want to dream or plan any further until I knew if it was possible. I didn’t want to want it too much.
And this is where the story gets more interesting. To be continued…