Sunday, January 8, 2012

Where Am I From?

“Where are you from?”  It seems to be the question of the hour these days.  I still think of myself as newly transplanted to the Northwest with four months of residency in Oregon.  We are making friends - I mean actually having social engagements and getting to know people.  In these new relationships, the question pops up , “Where are you from?”  The new twist on all of this is that I am beginning a new position in a new place with new faces asking “Where are you from?” 

 “Where are you from?”  Not a hard question one would think, but I find that I am of an age where the answer is more nuanced. Extended perhaps. “We moved from West Virginia,” is my short answer.  Or depending on my mood I might say “I was raised outside of Chicago” which oddly brings out my Chicago vowel sounds.

“Where are you from?”  I don’t know if people are polite or just unsatisfied with those two answers, but they usually volley another question to clarify my geographic history. In that case, I go for the briefest linear answer I can.  “I was raised in Chicago. After undergrad in central Illinois we lived in Cape Girardeau, Missouri for a few years then St. Louis for 11, upstate New York for 10 and West Virginia for 7.  (Go ahead. Do the math. I know I’m middle aged.)  Now I get to add Oregon.  

Mosier Creek Flats
After our “extensive” residency in Portland, Oregon, we find ourselves preparing to move to Mosier, Oregon.  As a new Clinical Chaplain at Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital, I need to be within 20 minutes of the hospital when I’m on call.  Sixty miles isn’t exactly 20 minutes even with my driving.  This move is challenging some of our assumptions, our narrative, and is even pushing us past our “change” limit. Our luring God has my head spinning.

As I have meditated on and prayed about our Change Roller Coaster, I have thought of an upside. When the people I meet in Hood River and Mosier ask, “Where are you from?” I have the option of very simple, short answer.  I can opt to skip my tedious geographic history and just say, “Portland.”   I can answer Portland because this is the place I fell in love with immediately - where I felt at home instantly.   I realize Jessica being here is a very important part of it, but I love Portland. Besides my birthplace, this is the only place where I immediately felt at home.  I love it here, and I believe the gift that God is giving us is that we will love it in Hood River and Mosier.  

Jessica is psyched because we can be the destination place for her and Frances as they enjoy the Gorge.  Tim is pleased with our modern apartment - an apartment like he has always wanted to live in.  I am beyond the moon because I have a fabulous job doing ministry in a breathtakingly beautiful place.  

And Portland is just down the road.  You know, that’s where I’m from.  Portland, Oregon.

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