Finding a New Groove

Life is coming closer to routine again. Tomorrow I will unpack the garage and try to get that organized. We have pictures on the walls and most of the moving clutter is gone. My desk is set up in front of a window (that opens) so I can gaze into our front yard and listen to the birds and rushing water outside. (It’s just the sprinkler runoff in the storm drain, but it’s still soothing, though wasteful.)

A new location and a new position at work mean different drums to get in sync with. It takes some time to find the rhythms and adapt to a new normal. My wife and I have started nightly walks which has been a good addition. I haven’t been able to find much time to read in the evenings yet, but I think that will come as we continue to settle.

We met some of our neighbors on one of our walks and in our small talk, we learned that they lived in their previous house for 25 years before moving to Washington. I tried not to look at them like they just told me they were from Mars, but I’m not sure I managed to hide my astonishment. Such has not been our lot and it’s hard to even imagine. They seemed equally amazed at how often and how far we have moved.

Moving is a chance for a new beginning. It’s a clean start in some respects, at work, with neighbors, new friends, new church. I can see advantages to the Benedictine ideal of stability, but I can also find benefit from our wandering pilgrimage, though not just the assumed benefits of seeing new places. While that can be interesting, it can also be distracting. The life of a tourist is no different than that of a channel surfing couch potato—both are searching for novelty.

One of the benefits, if seized, of moving frequently is that it forces a judgement of priorities and this is most obvious regarding material things. How many times are we going to move this and not use it? Based on glimpses into the garages of many military neighbors, some never learn this lesson, but to be confronted with all of your worldly possessions on parade as they are packed and loaded onto a truck and then unloaded and unpacked can certainly cause each item’s value to be assessed.

More importantly, our habits come under scrutiny. One of the reasons Benedict and many of the Desert Fathers prescribed stability as being paramount to a monk’s development is that it is difficult to maintain a set routine of prayer through transitions. Airplanes, hotel rooms, and other unfamiliar surroundings pose a challenge to an ordered existence. It is comforting to now have my desk arrayed in the corner of our living room where I can sit each morning with my coffee and perform the morning office. It may not be an altar in the proper sense, but it is a personal symbol of stability and routine. I am glad it is reestablished as it gives me hope that I am closer to a new groove.

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