I had a long phone conversation yesterday with my “big brother” in New York, who told me he has accepted a transfer to Philadelphia that will occur at the end of the summer. It is clear that this is where God is calling him; as I listened to him talk about the transfer, I could feel in my own soul the rightness of the decision. And so I rejoice with and for him.
Nonetheless, mingled with my happiness for him and for what this move will bring to the life of the world was the thought of how much more difficult the move will make it for us to spend time together. I get back to New York several times a year, and we always manage some time together during those trips. The visits are likely to occur much less frequently after his move to Philadelphia.
There is a part of me that desires that those I love could always be where I am (or that I could be always where they are) so that I could always easily spend time with them. Truth be told, I think what I’d really like is to carry them around in my pocket so that I can pull them out whenever I want.
But the consequence of deciding one’s life belongs to God is that one discerns ones path with God and follows where that discernment leads. Sometimes that means moving to Minneapolis, as it did for me summer before last. Sometimes it means moving to Philadelphia. (And sometimes it means an even more distant move; another friend will move to Bolivia this fall.) Any number of responses to God’s call interfere with the ability to converse over a glass of wine and a good meal or to just take a long walk together or, in the case of my big brother and me, to play the accordion together. If two disciples are each following God’s call, the likelihood is that their paths will intersect (geographically) periodically, but in between those points of intersection, they sometimes may swing widely apart.
This is not something I always find easy (even with telephone and e-mail in between face visits). But I recognize and accept it as part of the cost of discipleship, and can’t imagine living any other way. And so after the move to Philadelphia, I’ll happily enjoy the times we do get to be physically together, and in between, will rest in the knowledge that I always carry him and the others I so love firmly in my heart, so that we are never really completely apart.