Sometimes we don’t have a word or label for what we do, for what keeps us in place.
When we were moving a couple of years ago, when our loved home sold in one day and we moved to the rental, I sorted our belongings according to what we would need for a few months. I didn’t actually know how long that would be since we didn’t know where we were going, yet.
Then, when we knew we were coming here, across the country and into the next, we unpacked boxes and sorted our lives into what we would let go of and what we deemed worth keeping with us. Once precious books, family furniture filled with memories, and artful diversions seemed too cumbersome to keep. We tacitly lightened our load.
My feet were on unsteady ground, shifting from one place and purpose to another.
I still feel tentative. After being here for two years, pictures in protective wrap are leaning against the wall in the living room and the dining room table is cloistered in moving blankets against the basement wall. I just rearranged the furniture, again.
I remember, I happened upon the verse from Deuteronomy in Frederick Buechner’s recollections in The Remarkable Ordinary. All my moving pieces might be reimagined in the assurance of being held, as Buechner says, by “whatever there is that is holy to hold us.”
There is none like God…
who rides through the heavens to your help,
…The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.
Deuteronomy 33: 26-27 RSV
My true dwelling place wasn’t in that almost perfect house, or the providence of places that followed that year. My dwelling place was able to hold me for a moment that was beyond time. I repeated, was emboldened by, and rested in the words; the eternal God is my dwelling place, and underneath ARE the everlasting arms became my assurance that I belonged to God, not to a house, or town, or even a country.
In Isaiah, there is a verse that God will keep her in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on God. A note in the bible I read says that Isaiah 26:3 is a Hebrew metaphor that calls up an image of a tent rope “stayed” or tied to a peg in the ground that secured the tent in the windy desert.
I am far from the desert, however, I know how that image, of being blown about and securely held, was engendered by my practice of repeating that scripture phrase from Deuteronomy. Over and over, that image of God’s everlasting arms under my home anchored my mind and tethered my heart in peace.
That’s what we do in Lectio-Divina, extracting a word or phrase from sacred reading and living with that phrase for a time. This time, for me, the verse has stayed for this long season of feeling uprooted yet somehow grounded. The truth “in my heart” keeps me tied to the One who is the place that settles me.