29: To The Wanderers

A few years ago, I paraphrased some of Jeremiah 29, the oft-quoted letter to the Israelite exiles in Babylon. While no one I know is in literal exile, it occurred to me then that many of my friends and students–all over the world and for a variety of reasons–find themselves in unfamiliar places, and are uncertain of how long they’ll stay. As I spend the summer in Europe, thinking of the weddings, movings, job interviews and freshman years happening in North America, Jeremiah’s words seemed especially relevant. This poem is my prayer for all of us.

 

To the millennial wanderers.

To the graduate students

soldiers

missionaries

residents

spouses

corps members

of all kinds.

 

Sign a lease—

just a year

or two.

Get a cell phone

with a contract.

Frame and hang

pictures—

even shelves.

Buy some plants—try

to keep them alive.

Join a soccer team.

Get a dog—or a cat—

if you must.

Make friends, good ones,

who make you laugh

think

long to live well.

Expand your world;

don’t shrink it.

 

This isn’t forever—none of it.

When it’s time to go,

you’ll know.

But you’re here;

Be here.

 

I haven’t forgotten you:

Believe me.

The plans are brilliant,

Brimming with delight,

Not despair.

Tomorrow will come,

And the day after that.

 

But in this desert

you’re listening

close,

looking at me

like you never have.

As lost as you’ve ever been,

you’ll find me

if you keep looking.

And here’s the magic:

I’ll be found.

And so will you.

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