A man goes far to find out what he is–//Death of the self in a long, tearless night,//All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.//Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.//My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,//Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
-excerpt from “In a Dark Time”, Theodore Roethke
To the Wanderlust Heart,
I read that poem by Roethke last night and the whole world slowed down. I get it. And I think you get it too…
It’s 2015, but we’re still stuck in 1956, “angel-headed hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection”, finding outlets in every Travel Pinterest board, worn-out copy of National Geographic and VSCO covered Instagram feed. We are a hungry group. Shredded attempts at self-realization, identity and discovery dominate the flotsam of our adventures.
We are the kings and queens of navel gazing, tramping through vast tracts of land and vaster wifi bandwidths just to turn and look a little deeper into ourselves. We are self-proclaimed artists, vagrants, wanderers, dreamers, complete with an obscure quote on our profile page to prove it… Annie Dillard’s on mine.
But what are we really?
What if I’m just a lemming lining up at pop-cultures punch bar?
See… this movement, my wandering, hungry, re-hippie generation has tapped into something that resonates with believers. The longing for something more–for meaning, purpose, value, wholeness. It’s the reason so many of us got saved. C.S. Lewis’ shoots to the top of the every young Christian’s blog and profile page, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” This is the perfect place to start.
But where do we go from there? We gulp down early-Eliot and Ginsberg, Salinger, Kerouac and Vonnegut. We love their desperate fire, their kinetic energy. We love the wild leaps of faith their souls make as they search for purpose… Vonnegut summed it best in his book Slaughterhouse-Five, “There is one book that can teach you everything you need to know about life…but that’s not enough anymore” Answers aren’t enough any more. We are obsessed with searching. We are obsessed with dissatisfaction, with desire, and the elusive pursuit of beauty. We are the bulimics of truth, vomiting up whatever we find so that we can gulp down the next adventure with just as much starving expectation.
I have made myself an idol, and raw experience its shrine. I have climbed to the top of the mountain, and heard God’s voice in the whisper, and the thunder and the shekinah, but I don’t want to climb back down. I want to put this experience on loop, and play it over, and over and over, shouting a little louder each time, “Where are you God?!” to see if He’ll come out to play. But I was never meant to live here. Israel is tearing itself to pieces below. And I forget. He’s in me now. The Lord God of Heaven’s Armies dwells in this earthly vessel, and I have all my soul could ever want.
I can stop searching now…
Today is virgin territory. It’s beautiful. I want to embrace it with eyes full of longing and wonder, but with hands full of the truth, that I am running towards a destination. I know who I am. I know where I’m headed. I have met Rothke in his long night, but I have said, “The people who walked in darkness will see a great light… And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.”
There’s only one thing in this world I can be endlessly hungry for, and that’s Christ. Him I can crave with every bone in my body, but shout the answers to from every mountaintop. And then climb back down and serve, and serve and serve. Because God knows I want to be like Him. And He spent His one wild and precious life on earth bringing answers to the chaos.
You and I need to know what we are called to. We need to understand that we have the freedom to stop questioning our purpose. “For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.”
Travel. Explore. Dream. Create. But do it because you have something worth sharing, something worth giving. Something worth living.