This contemplation makes me think of the ancient Israelites passing through Transjordan: Why did 2 ½ tribes (Rueben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh) choose to settle there along the journey and not continue to the Promised Land? Was it strategic, to conquer more land? Or were they tired of the nomadic life, and the land looked good for settling? Numbers 32 seems to indicate the latter. Did they miss out on God’s planned blessing by not continuing?
The logistics of our nomadic journey at the current stage look something like this: We lived in Buchanan, MI for 3 ½ years while Owen worked on the classwork and legwork of his dissertation (PhD in Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology & Anthropology). We currently live in Amman, Jordan for 6 months while he continues to research, survey, and write under a fellowship with ACOR (American Center for Oriental Research). When we leave here, we will live under the generosity of my family for an indefinite, temporary period of time while Owen finalizes his dissertation and defends (hurray!) and applies for jobs (double hurray!)…And then we wait…Trusting that God’s plan for us does indeed include a job for Owen. At the point in which a job is procured, we will move to wherever in the world God happens to lead us. In the field of archaeology, jobs are scarce, and first jobs often are not final positions but rather stepping stones—perhaps it’s the same in many professions. As such, we anticipate a long future of uprooting and moving and re-settling.
I am a roots-loving girl. Roots are important for stability and nourishment. I want my roots planted firmly in one location, and from there to spread deep and wide. A good, solid, unchanging home seems quintessential to appreciating the rest of the world without feeling lost in it. (I speak of my own experience; I know many solid, cultured people who had to move a lot in their youth.) I feel so blessed that my parents were able to give this gift to me, and I still grieve that I will never be able to give this to my own children, geographically speaking. I kind of love the tendency here in the Middle East for children to never leave home…once married with their own families, they simply add on to the family home rather than moving away. The nomadic life is diametrically opposed to my inner make-up and preference in living. There is something deeply comforting—vital, even—about having a place to belong, and where do you belong more than on the same plots of land your ancestors have habituated and toiled over for generations? Memories radiate from every rock and tree and crevice of those places, from the very soil. One would zealously do anything to not lose it or have it changed, because the land itself becomes like a part of your very self; it can be ripped away only as easily as your very soul. It brings a deeper understanding of the tension in the Middle East, does it not?