Where (and How) Do I Want to Be?

I’m about to complete the academic year here at Crandall University, on Canada’s east coast, and return (if the Lord and the public health officials will let me) to the west coast for the summer en famille.

I like both lifestyles. I miss my wife, two sons, daughter-in-law and grandson in Vancouver terribly, yes, and the North Shore continues to beckon with long trails, big trees, gorgeous mountains—and Thomas Haas chocolates, Lee’s doughnuts, Memphis Blues barbecue (“whose god is their belly,” etc.,). I miss my friends and my motorcycle and my TV and lots more besides.

But here in Moncton, I have what I like to call the best dorm room in the Maritimes: my guitars, keyboard, and drum set are nicely connected through a mixer so I can play along with iTunes and Spotify whenever I like; I have a kitchen stocked with only what I prefer to eat; I enjoy laundry facilities en suite; and I have plenty of time to work, work, work—and I like working. Good friends at the university, fine student assistants, and work I enjoy (did I mention the working?).

Still, I can think of various ways I’d like to improve the feathering of both nests. I’ve got plans (and I know my wife has plans for me) to work on the Vancouver house and yard this summer, and then maybe buy a few more nice things for the Moncton place in the fall…

And then, this morning, Søren Kierkegaard tells me what the Holy Spirit of God seeks in a dwelling place:

We have our treasure in earthen vessels, but thou, O Holy Spirit, when thou livest in a man, thou livest in what is infinitely lower. Thou Spirit of Holiness, thou livest in the midst of impurity and corruption; thou Spirit of Wisdom, thou livest in the midst of folly; thou Spirit of Truth, thou livest in one who is himself deluded.

Oh, continue to dwell there, thou who does not seek a desirable dwelling place, for thou wouldst seek there in vain, thou Creator and Redeemer, to make a dwelling for thyself; oh, continue to dwell there, that one day thou mayst finally be pleased by the dwelling which thou didst thyself prepare in my heart, foolish, deceiving, and impure as it is.

[Quoted in The Oxford Book of Prayers, #192]

God seeks to live in my very heart: a place of corruption, yes, and of vanity, stupidity, and stubbornness; a place badly lit, foul-smelling, stacked with hoarded peeves and slights, strewn with porn of several kinds (sex porn, yes, but also house porn, clothing porn, fame porn, food porn…), clearly arranged to suit my lifestyle of petty appetites and aspirations and horribly inhospitable to such a superb roommate.

To call such a disaster a “fixer-upper” would be scandalous on a real estate agent’s website. Yet God freely, lovingly chose to move in and help me rehabilitate it. We’ve been at it together for a long time now, and it’s better than it was. But it’s still much too dark, and dank, and dumb. We’ll be at it for years yet.

May God inspire me to inhabit everywhere he puts me with a similar sense of constructive purpose: not to live here and now as comfortably as possible, but as creatively as possible. So much needs fixing up. So much needs cleaning and repairing and caring for. If God is willing to live in me, may I embrace wherever, and however, he wants me to live. And may I live more and more as God does wherever God lives: always holy, always loving, always creative, always making things better.

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