Except for college, I have lived my entire life within a 2¼-mile radius.
That’s no exaggeration. My childhood home, my first apartment, and the three houses where Tracy and I have lived all fit within a 2.249-mile radius circle. Medieval peasants were more mobile.
I was always immovably local.
When I was very young, I got lost at a carnival. It was only for a few minutes, but I can still remember the panic of realizing I was lost and the relief when I saw my mom, wearing the ivory-colored horse brooch I’d described to the officer.
As an older child, overnight camp didn’t appeal to me. When I began driving, going to the towns fifteen or twenty minutes away was an epic quest. In picking a college, I went “really far away,” about sixty-five miles.
During my years as a newspaper reporter, one of my greatest satisfactions was covering my hometown. People would ask me when I would move to a bigger paper in a bigger city, but I never had any interest. I loved what I did and where I was and saw no reason to leave.
Then, I got married. God has a great sense of humor.
Tracy suggested that we visit my ancestral Irish homeland for our honeymoon. Obviously, that didn’t count as leaving home.
A few years later, she very inconveniently reminded me that I’d promised to go to Africa with her after she came home deeply moved by her first trip there. You already know how that went: I protested passionately but lamely (the word for that combination is “desperately”), she won, we went, and everything changed.
Just over a year later, I’d quit my job, begun a career change to teaching, and flown to Mongolia alone. While there, I walked around the city with a map and a compass and the words “Jokov Musee,” the name of the museum next to my apartment and the only directions I needed to get a cab ride home. I even rode the Trans Siberian Railway without a translator or guide or the ability to speak Mongolian. I’ve also traveled on missions to Zambia and Nigeria, but I’ve always lived in that 2¼-mile radius.
Now, we’re preparing to move to Cape Town, South Africa – 8,014 miles away.
I never wanted to leave home. I never wanted to give up my local heritage and friends or leave my neighbors, but God often has other plans and purposes for us. He has different lessons than we expect to learn in different places than we expect to find them from different people than we think can teach us.
It’s a great, big world, yet it’s also increasingly small. Every place on it is local. Everyone is a neighbor.
Despite differences of values, beliefs, cultures, languages, ethnicities, we all share something God-given, beautiful, and perfect. Everyone on Earth is made in the image of God.
Seriously. “My world.” A 2.249-mile radius.