Moving-In or Moving-On?

       I will occasionally pull a previously-read book from my shelf and review the highlighted parts (a solid argument in favor of marking-up books), which is what I was doing when I found this passage in Leonard Sweet’s book, 11 Indispensable Relationships You Can't Be Without.

       “Every plant grows in two opposite directions at the same time: downward, more rooted and bound, clinging to the ground; but also upward, freer and more open, swaying in the breeze. Jewish mystic and history scholar Walter Benjamin once observed that all storytelling emerges from two fundamental experiences: the state of being rooted to a particular place, and the act of traveling.”

       “In other words, there are two kinds of stories to tell: moving-in stories and moving-on stories. Moving-in stories are stories with roots: home-sweet-home books about sanctuary, security, and solitude. Moving-on stories are stories with wings: blue-highway books about pilgrimages, on-the-road-again restlessness, and homesickness.”

       I liked this characterization immediately and wondered which category contains most of my stories. Am I a moving-in story guy or a moving-on story guy?

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       I would say most of my spiritual writing is moving-in stories. Even when I write about struggles and questions, I feel safe and secure and settled. I have so much more to learn, but I feel stable in what I know. I’ve moved in.

And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts, living within you as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love; (Eph 3:17 TLB)

       I recently read Richard Rohr’s book, Falling Upward, and I liked it a lot. In fact, I hope to attend one of his seminars in 2018. I need teachers who nurture both moving-in (deepening) and moving-on (broadening) in my stories (which is to say, my life).

       When I write about cycling or running, I think those are also moving-in stories. They are about roots and home, about fundamental disciplines that cling to the ground, about sanctuary, security, and solitude.

       However, I believe my trail stores are moving-on stories; about pilgrimage, swaying in the breeze, experiencing mystery in the unknown, and restlessness. I love being on dirt trails because I want to cover ground, to keep moving, to see new vistas, to feel different textures.

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. (Edward Abbey, Benedicto)

       Our family recently bought a small house on Lake Granbury, and it’s changed the way I think. My personal dream has always been about having a house in the mountains near a National Park. Recently, those dreams have been centered around Santa Fe. I’ve always been bent toward mountains, not water, so the idea of owning a lake house has been a surprise move.

       I now see Granbury as a moving-in story, a place to dig roots near family and among a familiar culture. Santa Fe would be a moving-on story, among unfamiliar culture and further from family. I love Santa Fe but I doubt it would ever feel like home. It has some of the best food in the world, but eating in excellent restaurants is not enough to grow deep roots.

       I read a blog by Ed Stetzer, Learning to Lead Differently as You Age, in which he wrote about how people my age (61) should spend our time and focus investing in people younger than us. He asked, “Are you raising up the next generation of Joshuas?” I made a note on my printed copy of the blog: That’s exactly how I want to live the rest of my life. Wherever we are, and whatever we do, I want the legacy of young Joshuas to be both my moving-in stories and my moving-on stories.

       How about you? Do you tell more moving-in stories or moving-on stories? Which is more comfortable? Which do you hope describes your future?


“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32

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