The City Around the Heart

I had lately struggled to understand why we came to Kentucky. With a baby on the way and a never-ending stream of bills, I’m going to have to take a full-time job. That’s not so bad, but it makes me question why we moved.

After all, in Lansing I had a much more lucrative job, we were surrounded by family and friends, and I was a deacon at a church that I loved. I could easily have driven down to Plymouth to attend Michigan Theological Seminary a couple times a week and followed the exact same pattern that we will have to do now here in Kentucky, except with far fewer money problems!

Of course, the whole problem with this mental construction is that were things reversed, I can almost guarantee I’d be looking at SBTS with envy and Michigan with disdain. The core problem is my own heart’s discontent. I want so badly to be doing something that feels significant that I am (a) not good at appreciating God’s acts of preparation in my life for later things and (b) not able to see the significance of what we are doing here and now.

This was brought into sharp relief for me when I read this poem by C.P. Cavafy.

The City

You said: “I’ll go to another country, go to another shore,
find another city better than this one.
Whatever I try to do is fated to turn out wrong
and my heart lies buried like something dead.

How long can I let my mind moulder in this place?
Wherever I turn, wherever I look,
I see the black ruins of my life, here,
where I’ve spent so many years, wasted them, destroyed them totally.”
You won’t find a new country, won’t find another shore.
This city will always pursue you.
You’ll walk the same streets, grow old
in the same neighborhoods, turn gray in these same houses.
You’ll always end up in this city. Don’t hope for things elsewhere:
There’s no ship for you, there’s no road.
Now that you’ve wasted your life here, in this small corner,
You’ve destroyed it everywhere in the world.

In other words, as I constantly need to be reminded, contentment is something found within our own hearts, when we rightly place our faith in God to lead and guide.

I’m so thankful for the way these simple reminders, which I need so often, can be found anywhere and everywhere here at seminary, like lights on a Christmas tree. When they come, I am startled and a bit frustrated by my own repeated forgetfulness. But then I remember that life is beautiful, and that God is faithful, and turn once more to the task of honoring the Giver of gifts.