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Spontaneity is not one of my gifts. My family might actually think that’s a significant understatement. A few years ago when I chose the word “mindful” as my word of the year, my mother was a little disgusted. She actually suggested that I pick the word “spontaneous”– she thought it might shake things up for me. So she was quite elated when the Epiphany star word that was bestowed upon me was “excitement.”

I ravenously consumed Tish Harrison Warren’s book Liturgy of the Ordinary shortly after it was published. When I was reading it I felt quite validated in my affinity for routine and good order. It compelled me to start making my bed daily, a habit that I’ve delighted in everyday since.

And yet, here I sit, on the cusp of a trip that I didn’t really plan on taking. I had other travels I had committed to this year, but due to the covid-19 pandemic, all of those travels were canceled. So just around two months out, I agreed to going to South Dakota for a week-long horseback riding trip with my grandparents.

I’m super excited, I really am. But, I’m going to a place I’ve never been before, riding a horse that I don’t know well at all, spending time with people I deeply love but don’t see as much as I would like to, and participating in a journey that I’ve had no hand in planning. It all feels so out of my control. I feel a little stretched.

I’m told that much of life is about the journey and the in between times. Personally, I think I’m more suited for the destination. I like the stability and the security of the arrival, I like being settled. For three years I traveled as an Admissions Counselor for Dordt College. I saw some pretty wonderful parts of the country, went to places I wouldn’t have otherwise seen, and met people that were so generous and kind. But as I prepared for every trip, I was nervous. Some semesters I traveled close to nine weeks out of the semester, and it never got easier. I never felt more at ease or a deeper sense of peace.

I often wonder about what it means to acknowledge how you’re wired, to be aware of the things that you are inclined to gravitate toward, and yet to stretch yourself and do the opposite. To take risks, to be bold, to be vulnerable. None of which I like very much.

I wonder about journeys. My life’s journey has been nothing like I had planned or anticipated, and most of the best things that have happened have been when I’ve agreed to do things that were difficult and even uncomfortable. I will never forget a friend telling me her favorite personal “beatitude,” “Blessed are the flexible, for they do not get bent out of shape.” What does it mean to bend and not break, to take chances and risks for the sake of growth and experiences — to stretch further than you think you can? I want to know what it’s like to not worry so much about the outcome but to find joy in the steps along the way.

In the next week, I will be taking many new and unfamiliar steps. . . ok, so I won’t be. My noble steed will be. This will all be uncharted territory, and I’m both thrilled and terrified — and I’m trying to hold those things in tension well — to live in this strange, in between, liminal space and experience.

There is one thing I know for certain, one thing that keeps me tethered. I feel really blessed to be able to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation in this unique way with people that I dearly love. I could not pick a better journey or companions.

Bailey Sarver

Bailey Sarver is a minister in the Christian Reformed Church, currently serving as a campus chapel pastor at the Campus Chapel at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

One Comment

  • Sheldon Starkenburg says:

    Bailey, you can never go wrong going to the Great state of SOUTH DAKOTA! Hope you have an amazing time!

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