The subject title for this first entry was chosen by WordPress, the host site.
The title of the blog should translate roughly as “As Borders Cross Me.” I’ve been reading a lot lately about Border Crossing experiences; there’s a concept that is gaining a lot of momentum in spiritual/religious circles, the idea that to be a good leader is to understand what it is like to cross boundaries, to experience the world through the eyes of “the other.” Obviously, I identify with this way of seeing the world, that we are, in a sense, called to cross boundaries, to see what is on the other side, to experience life beyond our own borders (whether geographical, political, or preferential–as in “my comfort zone”). And, recently, I was privileged to read a book on loan from Jen Grey that gave me some language to name a theological viewpoint for the “border crossing” lifestyle: Namely, that Jesus Christ crossed and erased boundaries of all kinds, including the boundary between life and death, so that we might know God and God’s Love more fully.
Since I left my job as Youth Minister at Shadow Rock, I have gained an even stronger appreciation for this boundary crossing lifestyle, and identified it as a key piece to the work in which I feel called. That is why I signed up to go to Germany for a year. The experiences in my life that have changed me the most are the ones in which I have gone some place, met new people and allowed other cultures and ways of life to influence mine. Whether going to Mexico, being welcomed into families other than my own, going to camp, college, seminary, etc. I believe I am most in tune with God’s work when I am allowing myself to be molded, to be influenced by lives that are different than mine. Like the time I went to Honduras and my friend Jorge taught me about Compost Latrines.
I have come to another conclusion about this, though. More often than not, boundaries cross us. “Boundary Crossing” is something active, it’s something you elect to do. And those who choose to do it, do so out of an idea that it will enhance their understanding and appreciation of the world. And it is important to have these intentional excursions; little adventures that mirror the Universal Hero’s adventure that Joseph Campbell has described as being called to an adventure and then returning home, changed by the adventure. This is how we grow, and the hero is the person who goes on these journeys and successfully integrates that growth into her/his life. It is essential that all of us have times when we are the hero, when we go out into the unknown and discover a new piece of existence. However, if we focus too much on the “boundary crossing” experience, then we come to think that opportunities for growth are few and far between, and we get too settled into our “normal” lives our “mundane” existence, and we lose sight of what we have gleaned during those intentional times. We forget that we are the heroes of the Great Story, that most of our opportunities for growing are when the tides of change wash up on our own shores.
So, what I want to accomplish with this blog, both now and when I get back to the States, is to regularly reflect on the experiences I have each day, remaining as aware as possible that I do not always get to go find “the other,” I do not always get to choose when I will grow; sometimes the other encounters me. Sometimes I have to grow even when I don’t choose. Sometimes God needs me to be a hero in my everyday life. And by “sometimes” I really mean…all the time. Because the “everyday life” is the only life we get.
So as I cross borders, I will intentionally explore other ways of life, and that will be fun for me. But I hope to pay just as much attention to my life and identity during those times that I am NOT the one in control, when I am NOT the one getting to choose what happens. As borders cross me, as the geo-political map changes around me, as my family and friends grow, as the wider culture changes and shifts, as empires rise and fall, as time marches on whether I want it to or not, as life happens, I hope to reflect on what these changes mean for me. It’s my way of approaching the contemplative life, the mindful life, the life of awareness: Who am I outside the boundaries I have set up for myself? And when boundaries melt away, or conflicting regions of existence come into contact…who do I become?
I hope that this entry will be the most wordy and boring. I hope that from this point on, I can dutifully and interestingly relay the experiences that I am having so that you can have a laugh and, maybe, journey with me.