I feel like I have a secret to confess: I am glad to move out of my office.
I will miss my titanic window, for sure, and those great bookshelves my friends built for me (and some of the books I am leaving to Rachel!). But I am glad to move on. True, I don’t get too attached to places (except Philadelphia, apparently), but it’s more. It is time for a second and third act of this great play God is writing with my life. I am looking forward to it.
For some reason, when I say something like that, I feel like a traitor to the good memories that the office holds in my mind and others’. Even though I am excited to move into what is next, there are reasons for feeling a bit guilty:
- We shared a lot of emotions in that office — it was good. We fought, confessed, imagined, revealed, rejoiced and wept. The emotions made it a sacred place where I trusted someone and we loved. How could we not want to stay in that?
- We are spatial — we don’t transplant that easily. We don’t float around in the air, we need our feet on the ground. If we don’t plant somewhere, we wither. After I posted the picture above on Facebook the other day someone said they finally believed I was moving out. Before they saw the evidence, my move (and my changing) seemed surreal; but now it is real. I feel the same way at times. I sat in one of my nice, new chairs in my new place the other day and I did not know where I was yet. It was a little scary. But we don’t want to get so planted that we can’t replant, do we?
- We remember — those memories make our identity. These days it is popular to say that we get our sense of self by being “storied.” Whatever narrative we tell about ourselves, that is who we are. I don’t believe that, but it has some truth to it. I think I am part of a much larger story than the small one about me. But what we remember about the time we shared in my former office will always be part of who I am. Someone also posted on Facebook wondering if my move meant I was finally returning to California! Memories can last a long time. If we let God knit them into his love and truth, I think they have the eternal value we like to give them.
- We experienced God in that office — it was convincing and convicting. Our experience of the Lord’s presence made the place special. One of my therapists gave me a book one time to explain away my Christianity (really!). It explained how people experience the “numinous.” He would say our experiences of spiritual things in a place make us think the place is sacred (which is why rocks end up getting worshiped). What we experienced in that office is more than that. I had many experiences that made me think of that oddly-painted place as a “thin” one, which makes me very happy to have been there when God was humble enough to be proved to us.
You can see why old men often die “in office,” especially pastors. Their physical offices begin looking kind of seedy and worn like their physical bodies and the clothes they won’t throw away — like professors at Hogwarts. But they hate to move. The place becomes so magical or at least so familiar, they can’t bear to leave it. I have to admit I feel some of that, too. I have loved the work I got to do in that office! And I especially love the people I got to laugh, cry, strategize, learn and pray with there.
But they can find their way to the new office. It is a block away and the chairs are better. And they will get used to the new me – not that new, of course, but newly deployed and inspired. We will enjoy sacralizing a new place. (It used to be a dance hall in the 30’s, so it probably needs some of that). I hope we all enjoy the freedom of moving with God and the Spirit moves us — even if it means planting in the next places the Lord extends us.