Campus feels pretty empty during January to the student population still here in good ol’ Sioux Falls. Most of that emptiness is due to the amount of students who are off exploring different parts of the world.
The choir is busy experiencing whole new cultures and customs in Europe. Others are in exotic places like Cuba or Africa, and some have chosen their own paths, traveling wherever they feel compelled to go.
The amount of students studying abroad and the feeling of emptiness around campus has me thinking about leaving.
What happens when we go away from a familiar place? How are we changed by our leaving and returning? How are those who we leave behind changed?
It’s all very interesting to think about.
Over the course of this J-term I’ve been reading through Donald Miller’s Through Painted Deserts. The book documents Miller’s long road trip from southern Texas to Portland. Throughout his journey, Miller learns several lessons about how traveling affects us, those around us and those we leave.
One of my favorite quotes goes as follows: “Everybody has to leave, everybody has to leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons.”
As I thought about this, I found beautiful truth in Miller’s words.
How many of us want to travel? We all relish the opportunity to leave and experience something new. We all have a desire to remove ourselves from the way things are or have been so we can taste what else is out there and then bring what we’ve picked up back into the familiarity.
Through leaving and returning, we are constantly reshaping how we experience life.
How does leaving help us to keep the faith?
The process of leaving in itself takes faith. To break free from what is known, stepping out into a new and foreign world takes a lot of faith.
When we leave, we give part of ourselves up, making ourselves vulnerable to what is unknown. But we can’t fully process our experiences outside of the familiar until we fully embrace the vulnerability that comes along with leaving.
I would like to encourage all of you to leave. Go hiking. Go camping. Travel over a J-term. Travel over a semester. Go south, north, east or west, but just go. Relish in your new experiences.
It doesn’t have to be right this instant, but it does need to happen within the remaining years you’re alive. Make friends. Make memories. Make crazy decisions because we only have one chance at life. Get out of here. Leave the familiar.
But then, come back, and fall in love with what you know all over again.