My life’s been a little different in the past few months. And it’s kind of weird saying that now â€” that it’s different. But it really is. In a lot of ways, so many ways that I don’t think I could really begin to explain it all. I guess I just needed to get away. I needed to go somewhere and think about things, to distance myself from all that I’ve known and force myself into a new place, both literally and figuratively.
Now I’m in Indiana. It’s as far west as I’ve ever been. No, I don’t get out much. I’ve discovered that when you do travel west, you see some pretty weird stuff. Like flat land. And I mean really flat. And the sun doesn’t set until 10:00PM. And high school kids are really into marching band. It’s all weird.
Yet this weird place has become a sort of sanctuary for me. It’s a little oasis in the ever-growing desert of the everyday. Instead of charging through life at the normal pace, I’m sitting down to step back and look at things to address matters of the heart and the like. I’m taking time to read and write and play piano for hours on end and have no reason to stop. There’s time to just sit and think.
That’s what I’ve seen this experience more than anything else. There’s been time to think about things. I’m not sure if resolve is the word I want to use. It’s more like sort through, or deal with, or kick around. Maybe wrestle with. Or more this illustration of sitting down with my problems and talking about things with them. Over dinner or something like that. It’s as if I am extending my hand and making an effort to get to know them.
I’ve also compared it to waking up alone in the woods and having no idea where to go. Yes, that sounds a little scary. And it is. I don’t see how it wouldn’t be. But when you slow down and purposely push everything out of the way that distances you from pain, suffering, emptiness and meaninglessness that seems to weasel its way into every aspect of life, that’s what it feels like. It feels like you’ve just woken up and looked around and realized that you have no idea where you are. And that you don’t even know how long it will take ’til you get to somewhere familiar.
But I happen to like the woods. I like that feeling of exploring, going wherever you think you need to go. It doesn’t really even matter where you end up. There’s no right way, no right place to arrive at, just the idea of being there and going somewhere. It’s observing the beautiful trees and plants and colors of the fallen leaves all around you.
I realize that’s a pretty different way to think about it. It’s a little bizarre, actually. But that’s okay. I’ve been finding out that my ever-changing views on things are a little different than normal â€” but what is normal, anyway? And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, then please ignore it. Thank God that you’re not completely off-the-wall like me.
What I’ve been discovering is that it’s more about having a bigger perspective on things, becoming fond of questions rather than answers. It’s about opening yourself up to the experience that is life and learning from all it has to offer.
Since I’ve come to the Walnut Hill congregation here in Goshen, I’ve had nothing but this amazing experience revolving around amazing people. Time and time again I’ve tried to retreat back into my own little world of me, I, and me. Time and time again God thrusts more and more of the neatest people into my life. People that convince me there’s still so much good in the world, â€œand that it’s worth fighting for.â€
Why yes, I did just quote the Lord of the Rings. And like Samwise and Mr. Frodo, we’re all on our own little adventures. But we have to remember that those adventures don’t exist within ourselves. Life is everywhere and truth is all around us â€” especially in our relationships with others. And it seems the more I come to realize that, the more things just seem to fall into place. Work themselves out. Just like that.
And that’s different. But a very nice kind of different.
Jordan Good is a junior at Eastern Mennonite University serving through the Ministry Inquiry Program at Walnut Hill Mennonite Church in Goshen, Indiana. He’s a member of Bally Mennonite Church and looking forward to his cross-cultural learning this fall through EMU in South Africa.
Photos of Jordan’s experiences during his time with MIP have been provided