Something unexpected happened this summer in McCarthy, Alaska.
My religious past insisted that I write its story. It told me that until I get it all out, I can’t move on.
It also said that telling my story is an integral part of my vocation.
Many Unitarian Universalists (and not just those raised outside UUism) are wandering in the wilderness, stranded between the captivity of their religious heritage and a promised land in which they are healed and whole. Scolding is not helpful to these wanderers. They do not need scornful criticism from those who think they have arrived. They need trail maps. They need to hear the stories of other wanderers who, through hard and persistent effort, found their way. I feel called to be a mapmaker and a storyteller.
I also feel called to describe my religious past to those who have never lived there. Many religious and political liberals cannot understand their conservative opponents, who seem like aliens from another planet. “Why aren’t they worried about climate change?” liberals wonder. (It’s simple. Jesus is coming any day now.)
When we moved to Alaska in 2005, we sent most of our belongings north with a shipping company. Liesl, her mother and her sister drove the rest of it up the Al-Can in July, and then flew back to Michigan. Toward the end of August, Liesl and I flew from Detroit to Anchorage, and began our Alaskan adventure.
I have always felt like I missed something by not driving the Al-Can. There’s a strange sense of “How did I get here?”
My experience in McCarthy this summer told me that it’s time to track back the tesseract. It’s time to take the long way back, remembering, paying attention to detail, writing from inside memory.
Most of this work won’t show up here on Nagoonberry. It’s a different kind of writing––more careful, less off-the-cuff.
Vocation is rarely convenient, but it usually works out. I don’t understand its logic, but I trust that somehow, all of this will come together.