Yesterday, I walked home while the weather and landscape were in transition. After spending some time on the University of Michigan campus, I had taken the bus home. I got off my stop and began to walk the rest of the way to my house. My socks were soggy and waterlogged from melting snow.
When I walked by my neighborhood park, I stopped to take in the scene because the view was so beautiful. I took the photo above, but it doesn’t do it justice. In the midst of winter, we were having a warmer day. Rain had fallen for most of it, causing the the snow to melt, and now, without the rain, there was a thick layer of white fog rising from that snow. It lifted into the air under a blue sky which had tints of emerging red. The sun was hinting at setting.
I paused it to take it all in.
I stood there wearing a Michigan hoodie, the first time in a long while I didn’t need to wear a coat. I was reminded that spring will come.
But most of all, I was reminded of connection. . . a connection to a place. . . I felt a deep sense of calling to a place and along with it, gratitude.
There is great beauty in the place that calls you. Moving beyond thoughts of scenery, we all find ourselves in particular locations among particular people for particular spans of time. A calling to a place is a calling to all that particularity – people, purposes, problems, possibility.
If you think about the place where you live, it won’t take long for names to emerge in your mind. They rise from the ground like that fog. The places where we live bring us into communities, and the people in those communities change us.
And in times of collective struggle and hardship, to use a Biblical phrase, we may find that we have been called together “for such a time as this.” That is a holy thing. I encourage us to spend some time pondering this – our calling to a particular place and moment of time.
Yesterday, standing in that spot, I had the opportunity to reflect on this.
I have loved everywhere I have ever lived, but I have a particular kind of relationship with Ann Arbor. Perhaps some of it is rooted in the realization that we spent years dreaming of Ann Arbor before ever had an opportunity to live here. From California, we thought about Ann Arbor a lot; if fact, we used to have strategy conversations: “How do we get to the Midwest in general, and if possible, Ann Arbor?” We would ask ourselves this question and discuss it as we took evening walks among the palm trees in our Pasadena neighborhood.
There were tangible reasons for this hope, mostly a realization that the University of Michigan would be a good fit. But beyond that, I felt something beckoning us to live here. That was a sense of calling.
And this place still calls me. Never static, our time in Ann Arbor has had twists and bends. We’ve experienced energy, purpose, grief, and loss. At one point, I had to completely re-imagine and re-orient what I was doing here. It was very hard, but it also brought me renewed vision and purpose. Most of all, through it all, in it all, above it all, the calling toward place has always brought us toward people. Those names come to mind for me right now.
We’ve been together for such a time as this.
We’re together right now for such a time as this.
Keeping that in mind, all of us can take in the scenery of our calling. Snow melts. Spring emerges. It’s impermanent, and the landscape always changes. Our calling changes too. It’s an alive kind of thing.
And who knows? For any of us, there might be chapters of places still unknown and uncharted, places we’ll ground ourselves in the future.
But for now, feet firmly on the ground, we are where we are.
And I hope it brings us together for such a time as this.