Voluntary Displacement

For our orientation here, we had to read one of three books. Since I already owned one of the options, Compassion, by Henri Nouwen (thanks to a recommendation by Ali Boyd!), I chose that one. And I LOVED IT. I highly recommend it. But anybody who knows me probably is letting that go in one ear and out the other because I LOVE books a lot and recommend too many too often lol.  However, It’s a book that put words to the desires of my heart.

The book is so full of wisdom, I couldn’t read it too fast and still process the awesomeness. One chapter is called, “Voluntary Displacement” and it follows the chapter on “Community”

I’m here. In Chicago. A city to which I’d never been. But I now live here. For almost one year.

I’m voluntarily displaced. In response to a call of sorts.

In the words of Henri Nouwen,

The paradox of the Christian community is that people are gathered together in voluntary displacement.

Since a big focus of this year with the Amate House is community, I guess the fact that we’re all voluntarily displaced is a good thing 😉

Nouwen talks about how in our voluntary displacement we cast off the illusion of “having it all together” and thus experience our true (and shared) condition.  In our common displacement, following our displaced Lord,

 we are called out of our familiar places to unknown territories, out of our ordinary and proper places to the places where people hurt and where we can experience with them our common human brokenness and our common need for healing.

We’re beginning to experience what this means and will continue to do so over the course of the year. How beautiful. Brokenness transformed.

And of course… Nouwen qualifies his statements a lot (like we all know I do) so I like him even more.   Voluntary displacement is not actually voluntary, but in response to a call. And it often is not physical displacement, but can be inner displacement. And of course, lots of people are involuntarily displaced all the time, so this is not to romanticize displacement but to call us to solidarity with the millions who live disrupted lives.

All this to say… I’m embracing my voluntary displacement and my call to be here in Chicago.

I’m loving getting to know my housemates.

I jumped up and down the first time I saw the Chicago skyline and the Lake Michigan horizon. Well… as much as you can jump while buckled in a car 🙂

Lake Michigan! (from the car)

I’m enjoying the reflections and other exercises that are part of our orientation. The orientation that reminds me of RA training… the Catholic version! Good thing Housing and CCM were my main Furman things 🙂

More soon. On Nouwen. On Chicago. On Amate. On Community.

And one more thing… my address. I love mail. You love mail. Give me yours if you want some mail!

3108 W. 24th Street Chicago, IL 60623


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