the story room

Friday, May 26, 2006

A pilgrim still

Well, it's official: I am now a college graduate.

About this time last week I had just finished up all my packing. The dorm room I lived in this past year had truly become home to me and my roommate, and it was also a place of warmth and welcome for friends who wanted a place to retreat.

This made for a stark contrast, then, when it came to packing everything up. As I sat in the middle of the room, surrounded by boxes and sorting through the last of my things, I couldn't help but think about my time at the beginning of that year, surrounded by boxes again, only that time unpacking and getting settled.

Unpacking in August was an experience that made an impression on me that stayed with me all year (see August 25 entry). As I sorted through my things and threw away what didn't need, I thought about what it means to belong to a God who calls us sometimes to live as pilgrims. Reflecting on that experience, I wrote this:

"And there in my room, I found myself facing the God who bids me come and follow Him, and I also found myself acutely aware of my need to trust Him. I hear His call to surrender everything I hold dear, knowing that He will give me a load to carry, but that it will be light -- maybe even lighter than I'd like it to be. But I trust that He will give me what I need, and that my loose grip on things I love too much will enable me to get up quickly and follow Him on this long (and often uncertain) road with endurance and strength.

"Because the truth of it is that as much as this world is indeed my home, I've never been truly settled, and I probably won't be until Jesus finishes His work and makes everything right. So my task is not to sink my roots anywhere so deeply that I'll die if I ever come uprooted; my task is to follow my God wherever He tells me to go and to do anything He tells me to do. And like Abraham and his pilgrim children, though I can't see very far ahead, I will travel light and will set up camp anywhere He tells me to. What else can I do but follow this God, and trust that wherever I pitch my tent, I will be dwelling in my Father's house?"

When I wrote that entry in August, it was written with a resolute but heavy heart; I didn't want to leave. I look back on those words now, and I know a deeper joy. I am still a little scared about moving away in August and starting a new life in an unfamiliar place, but I see my Father's goodness in the past, and I know that he won't abandon me now. Whatever else will come, that pilgrim God will be with me.

There are times in the Bible when God tells someone, "Go to this place, and I will show you what to do when you get there." I don't know how he spoke to them or how they recognized his voice, but I can't help but wonder if this unshakable sense that I'm headed in the right direction is a feeling that God's people of long ago would have been familiar with.

And I wonder what wonders I'll see when I go.


Anonymous Paulie said...

You should write a book Er!! :D You are such a talentd writer! :D Have a great week my friend!! I hope all goes well with your job at Trin!! :D

31 May, 2006 15:37  
Blogger Caranne said...


I really love your blog. It is helpful, inspiring, and interesting.

Oh, and FYI--I have a blog now! (Yes, I am a bandwagon jumper). If you want to check it out, it is

And thanks for your posts...really, I do love reading them. : )

Grace and peace to you,


04 June, 2006 20:19  
Blogger Simon said...

Do you think Jesus would have approved of us destroying all God's species?

05 June, 2006 06:48  
Blogger Erin said...

Paul and Cara, thank you for your words. I'm so grateful that you both come by.

07 June, 2006 21:36  
Blogger Erin said...

Simon, first of all, welcome.

I actually think God is grieved by the rapid extinction of so many species.

Even though, over the course of time, a number of species have become extinct naturally, it's true that we have done a lot of destruction and have heightened the rate of extinction tremendously, and I don't think God approves at all.

God appointed us to take care of the earth and its creatures, but not to exploit them. So I agree with you: it's a sad thing that it's happening, and I don't think Jesus does approve.

Why does God allow us to do such harm in the first place? I could give some theological thoughts, but in the end, I end up saying 'I don't know'...and trusting in God's goodness still. That's not always easy, for sure (especially in light of difficult things like this)...but true, I think.

I appreciate your thoughts, Simon. And again, welcome.

07 June, 2006 21:43  
Blogger Erin said...

Oh, and one more thing I forgot:

I think that we have a responsibility, as God's people, to do all we can to take care of the earth, its creatures, and do whatever we can to right the harm we've done.

It's not enough to throw up our hands and say "Well, it'll be alright in heaven." There's work to be done here, and we have a responsibility to carry that out.

07 June, 2006 21:46  
Blogger Mike Clawson said...

Congrats Erin! I hope that God continues to lead you on to fertile ground.

We miss seeing you! Any chance you can come visit us out here in Yorkville sometime before you leave the Chicago area? Come join us at our church plant some Saturday night!


07 June, 2006 23:08  
Blogger Erin said...

Mike, it's always good to hear from you!

I've been thinking about you and Julie a lot lately, Mike. I miss seeing both of you, too.

It's hard for me to make it out to Yorkville because my car isn't the most reliable, but if Matt or someone ever makes it out that way, I'd be happy to hitch a ride and come along. (I would love to visit the church plant. I've been praying for you guys, still. It sounds like God is doing good things.)

I'll send you an email sometime soon to catch up a little bit...

10 June, 2006 20:21  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I remember your thoughts from back in August...they speak wisdom into my life once again now.

Your pilgrim imagery echoes the last few lines of the Rilke poem that continues to stay with me...

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don't let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness

Give me your hand.

Thank you, friend, for always giving words to what I cannot express.

Your sister and fellow pilgrim,


11 June, 2006 14:21  
Anonymous James said...

Erin and Amanda,

I know that poem. Thanks, friends, for sharing it with me. Take my hand, indeed.

I'm still thinking about starting my own blog, but I have been reading this one that you, too, might enjoy.

Two words: Monkey chow.


12 June, 2006 00:33  
Blogger Erin said...

Amanda, I very much appreciate your words. You know, the past couple days as I've been cleaning, those lines have been running in my mind. (Could you email me that whole poem, as well as that other Rilke one I had on my wall?)

And I'm honored and blessed to have you as my traveling companion.


13 June, 2006 19:43  
Blogger Erin said...

James, I'm glad that poem is ringing true for you, too. (Thanks again, Amanda, for sharing it here.)

You should totally start a blog...I'd definitely read it.

Ha...and I was totally laughing at the monkey chow thing the other night! Day 1 video was my favorite!

13 June, 2006 19:44  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

good heavens.

monkey chow.


-rz :)

(just though i'd join the party here.)

14 June, 2006 17:00  
Blogger Erin said...

Welcome to the party, Roz! :-)

Man...this is probably the coolest party I've thrown in a long time...maybe ever! (Is that sad?) ;-)

14 June, 2006 17:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

haha. party. yeah.

erin, which one did you have on the wall? i don't remember. (Speaking of Rilke, I've been reading him before I do Compline every night...good stuff, I'll have to tell you more later.)

james, i would read your blog. definitely. (i'm glad you appreciate the poem by the way.)

oh, and monkey chow...freakin' hilarious!



14 June, 2006 18:28  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is totally an old post, but I wanted to be with all these friends too!! I miss you guys!


24 June, 2006 12:17  
Blogger Erin said...

Caitlin, you're always welcome to comment on old posts! It keeps 'em alive! Ha...

I'm glad to hear from you. I miss you, too, Caitlin. For real.

Peace to you, my friend!

24 June, 2006 12:44  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


On my vacation (to San Diego) I took a drive east of the city in hopes of hitting the wide expanse of the desert...

the highway I was on went all the way to Arizona and I thought how nice it would be to stop by and say hi to you...if I could have continued driving for a couple more hours. :)

(I had this crazy moment where I thought of becoming a desert pilgrim ...a desert amma. It was a great moment, but sadly I came back to my senses, got back into my rented car and drove back to the city. *sigh* )

Anyways, I wanted to let you know that I thought of you and missed you while on pilgrimmage to the desert.


25 June, 2006 15:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amanda, I was also in the San Diego area just last week. The desert there is nice, but it is supreme here in Arizona. Where I live there are mountains that surround our valley and cactus everywhere. We also have the best sunsets.

I wish you and Erin could come visit me one day. I would take you hiking in the mountains, we'd look at all the Sahuaro, and I'd take you to the San Xavier Mission in the middle of the desert. It's called the "White Dove of the Desert."

I miss everyone! I feel too far away living in the southwest. Erin, I promised I was going to email you such a long time ago and i will!! I have to tell you about a book! (:


25 June, 2006 18:48  
Blogger Erin said...

I wish we could come and visit sometime, too, Caitlin. I would love it, I think!

26 June, 2006 20:47  
Blogger Caranne said...

I think this may be the longest running blog conversation ever! Mind if I join the fun? : ) Amanda, was your trip wonderful?! Erin, I like your newest post a lot! Roz and Caitlin, I miss you both! What have you both been doing in Wisconsin/Arizona??


27 June, 2006 08:41  
Blogger Erin said...

It's true, Cara -- I've never gotten so many comments on a post before!

27 June, 2006 16:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is my favorite blog entry + comments, ever.


Cara, you will have to see the photos from my trip when you come to stay next weekend. :)

Caitlin, I wish we would have run into each other in San Diego - how funny would that have been? After your description of Arizona, I think we might just have to take a road trip. Wow.

Erin, what was the Rilke poem you had on your wall? (You still haven't said.) I'm sending you the card and pictures (along with the GR front page) tomorrow, and thought I would include the poems you requested.


time for a song:
"This is the blog that never ends. Yes, it goes on and on, my friend. Some people started typing it, not knowing what it was and they'll continue typing it, no matter, just because this is the blog that never ends. Yes, it goes on and....on..."

okay, I'll stop. maybe.

29 June, 2006 19:19  
Blogger Erin said...

Amanda, your post made me laugh.

I ended up finding the Rilke poem online. It was "She who Reconciles the Ill-Matched Threads". However, if you want to send it to me, I liked having a copy in your handwriting. Could you also send the "take my hand" one? I would love to have it in full (though the last half is now committed to memory!).

Oh, and hopefully tomorrow you will have a mix cd in the mail for you. It's all made; I just have to send it. Woo.

Hm...I should just send you an email. : )

29 June, 2006 21:25  
Anonymous rz said...

*stealth-like typing*

I wonder if anyone would notice now that I've commented on this one again... if not, you and I could have our own private conversation Er (as if there aren't other, more effective ways of doing so).

hehehe :p

07 August, 2006 15:16  
Blogger Erin said...

You crack me up, Roz!

(and I am curious, too!)

07 August, 2006 16:15  
Anonymous rz said...

I'll have to send you and acb an email to update you two. How I long for school! I want you to be there, too...

Hey, somehow I'm warming to the idea of becoming an actuary- which once was my perceived worst job ever. Hm.

07 August, 2006 21:02  

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