Posted on March 28th, 2013
fter school yesterday, Roy wanted me to look up a book online. It was a biography of an adventurer, a relative of his teacher who had seen a lot of the world when it was a mite wilder than it is now.
“He had itchy feet,” Roy explained. “That means he wanted to travel a lot.”
He couldn’t know it, but he was explaining his exciting new idiom to the wrong person. For all of his ten years of life, we have lived in one place. We’ve only moved houses once when he was two and those homes were only a block apart. In his experience, our family is an archetype of stability and sameness where the seasons may change but the setting does not.
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams wrote that our greatest discoveries can be made in the spaces between ourselves and others—a sentiment in which I take peculiar comfort when I’m sittiing still.
And yet I am painfully familiar with the condition known as itchy feet. As we move toward our eleventh year in New Mexico, no one is more surprised than I am that we have been here so long. Granted, we’ve been busy. Having babies and doing the work required to keep them alive and relatively well-adjusted,you lose track of time. That is what happens when you’re immersed in work that consumes you, but ten years? In my experience, that kind of time travel only occurs after a misspent evening enjoying the open bar provided by your company of employ.
But I digress.
As a friend considers a move out of state and the spring winds blow up around me, I find my feet to be especially itchy. I wonder if we have been sitting still for too long. What are we missing as we retrace our steps and revisit our established routines week in and week out? There is more out there than whatis here but, I have to ask myself, is it any more precious simply for being uncharted in our collective experience?
And I find that I am itchy about more than place—it is the space around vocation, too, where I am feeling restless. The work I do is quiet and small. Sometimes I crave louder and bigger.
In his book Where God Happens (a book I never would have found without my same, soon-to-wander friend), former Archibishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams wrote that the divine can be experienced in our relationships with each other. It is in these small, familiar places that the greatest discoveries are made.
This is what I tell myself, when my feet are at their itchiest: that we are still exploring even when we feel fenced in as long as we are together.∗