A Blessing in the Dust
Knowing when to stay, knowing when to leave: this is one of the most challenging invitations for discernment that we will ever encounter. There are times for leaning into the resistance that meets us; times when God calls us to engage the difficulty and struggle that will shape and form us in a way that ease and comfort never can. There is ground that becomes holy only when we remain long enough to see the blessing that can emerge from struggle, that shimmers through only after the dust, kicked up by the struggle, finally begins to settle.
And then there are times for leaving; times when—as Jesus counsels his disciples—the holy thing to do is to shake the dust from our feet and leave behind a place that is not meant for us. This blessing is for those times.
You thought the blessing would come in the staying;
in casting your lot with this place, these people;
in learning the art of remaining, of abiding.
And now you stand on the threshold again.
The home you had hoped for, had ached for, is behind you – not yours, after all.
The clarity comes as small comfort, perhaps, but it comes:
illumination enough for the next step.
I promise you there is a blessing in the leaving,
in the dust shed from your shoes as you walk toward home –
not the one you left but the one that waits ahead,
the one that already reaches out for you in welcome,
in gladness for the gifts that none but you could bring.
Adapted: Jan Richardson
Gospel Luke 10:1-2.17-20
The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of him, in pairs, to all the towns and places he himself was to visit. He said to them, ‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest. Start off now, but remember, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road. Whatever house you go into, let your first words be, “Peace to this house!” And if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you. Stay in the same house, taking what food and drink they have to offer, for the labourer deserves his wages; do not move from house to house. Whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is set before you. Cure those in it who are sick and say, ‘The kingdom of God is very near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not make you welcome, go out into its streets and say, “We wipe off the very dust of your town that clings to our feet, and leave it with you. Yet be sure of this: the kingdom of God is very near.” I tell you, that on that day it will not go as hard with Sodom as with that town.’
The seventy-two came back rejoicing. ‘Lord’, they said, ‘even the devils submit to us when we use your name.’ He said to them, ‘I watched Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Yes, I have given you power to tread underfoot serpents and scorpions and the whole strength of the enemy; nothing shall ever hurt you. Yet do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you; rejoice rather that your names are written in heaven.’