In a recent podcast, Emily P. Freeman encouraged those in the ellipse of life to consider that the Next Right Thing in this stage of life might be to choose to plant roots where they are lacking as an act of faith that God present even in the uncertainty. Her inspiration came from the book Placemaker by Christie Purifoy.
Her words caught my attention because the end of every football season feels like an ellipse. There is so much uncertainty in coaching. Questions often hang in the air for months. Who will move? Who will receive a promotion, resign or retire? Who will be left behind to keep the ship moving forward and who will be asked to come along for a new adventure?
This cycle of potential transition is as familiar as the changing of the leaves on a tree in the Midwest. And just as autumn changing to winter is met with a mix of emotions, so is the anticipation of moving for many families.
As Emily encouraged Placemaking I pondered:
What does it look like to plant roots and create a home when you know you may move in a few months?
Christie’s beautifully curated Instagram page features this quote “We are all gardeners of a sort, and most of our lives are dedicated to tending, keeping, and making.” ~ Placemaker
Making a house feel like a home is challenging when you know you may only live there for a few months.
There are so many questions that seem unique to try to answer:
- What furniture do you buy that will fit into multiple spaces and hold up after a few moves?
- Do you collect souvenirs?
- What colors do you choose? (Because we all know what happens when we display the rival team’s colors!)
- How do you honor your family’s history and create space for future trends?
- How do you do this all on a shoestring budget?
The longer the list of questions the more I ponder Christie’s quote. What falls into the category of gardening? What has my focus where I’m “dedicated to tending, keeping, and making?” Is it hospitality?
What does hospitality look like when your mission field is an athletic field?
The description of her book, Placemaker in part says “No matter our vocation, we spend much of our lives tending, keeping, and caring. In each act of creation, we reflect the image of God. In each moment of making beauty, we realize that beauty is a mystery to receive.”
It’s clear that Christie has a passion and gift for hospitality. She also has a keen eye for finding beauty in the world. Flowers arranged artistically, a colorful doorway, a foggy path, and sunlight through a window all make appearances on her Instagram account.
Not everyone has the same talents and gifts as Christie, but I agree we are in some sense we are all gardeners. Still, for a coaching family, those we tend and care for may rarely enter our home. And when we reflect the image of God as we love those we serve it is often when we are dirty and smelly and exhausted. This also shifts the image of what many define as beautiful.
How do you plant roots when you may need to uproot in a few months?
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21
Living in the ellipse is never easy, but after two decades this rhythm is part of our calendar and we anticipate entering the unknown as best as we can. Knowing that our time in a community may last a few months or several years means that if we don’t jump in quickly and begin the work we believe we are called to do we may miss our moment.
There isn’t anything wrong with living life intentionally. But when we choose the image of placemaking (gardening, tending, keeping, and caring) outside of our strengths and calling we are will likely become stressed, resentful, and distracted from our true mission.
This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t ever try something new or explore new opportunities, but it may take a little longer to ponder what placemaking in the ellipses looks like when your reality includes the possibility of starting over every year.