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Years ago a friend and colleague was preparing for a retirement move. After having lived in South Dakota for most of his professional career, he and his wife were preparing to move to a retirement community. It was a place where several other clergy friends had moved and they were looking forward to a big change in their lifestyle. After a long and successful pastoral career, this friend had served in several interim positions, including a stint as an Associate Conference Minister. He had then served as interim pastor of several different congregations. Now his health was catching up with him and he needed to pull back from the pace and stress of full-time work, so they made their choice and put their home on the market. It sold quickly and his wife, who is an organizer, went to work packing everything up. His study was dismantled. Boxes of books were given away. Everything was prepared for the move. He came to meet with a clergy group for one of the last times before leaving the state.

He came into our meeting looking a bit down. Someone asked him how it was going. He paused and said, “I’m homeless. I’ve never been homeless before.” We didn’t know how to respond. We knew that he had a place to live waiting for him at the retirement community. We knew that they had not long before downsized to a townhouse and had the proceeds from the sale of that place as they moved into the community. His wife had been so confident and happy about the move. He was showing some of his reluctance that morning.

As it turned out, that move wasn’t their last. They had moved a lot of times in their married life and there was yet one more interstate move after that one. We kept in touch throughout their lives and he went on to have many more meaningful years. We had just caught him at a moment when he was asking some of the questions that everyone asks about change and one’s place in the world.

I’ve remembered that morning ever since it happened, however. His feeling of being a bit lost in the midst of a move stuck with me as I thought about my own life. Our lives, to be sure, are very different. Our careers have taken very different paths. I have a lot more options than he did when he was my age. But I think I know a little bit of what he was feeling that day.

Today, we’re heading off on an adventure. Our plan is to tow our camper out to northwestern Washington where our son and his family live. It is a trip we’ve made several times before. Our camper has made a trip to the Pacific Northwest every summer that we’ve owned it. The tires and bearings have been checked, things have been prepared. And this trip we are going to take a bit slower pace and not put in too many miles each day. It should be relaxing.

The first stop is about 400 miles away. It is a place that I called home during my growing up years. My folks bought a cabin property when I was about six years old and we spend our summers there during my elementary and high school years. When I went away to college and later, after I was married, to graduate school, I thought of that place by the river as home. I proudly told anyone who would listen that I was from Montana and I believed that I would be going back to Montana as soon as I completed my education.

Of course, it didn’t work out that way. When we graduated from seminary there weren’t many congregations in Montana looking for pastors and we accepted a call to serve in North Dakota. From there we served in Idaho and South Dakota. Our children never lived in Montana. I filled out a few applications and I even interviewed with committees in Montana, but I never received a call to serve there. We have lived in the house where we live longer than either of us ever lived in any other house. I’ve called South Dakota home for 25 years and it has been a very good home.

Part of this trip will be some preliminary scouting for a new place for us to live. Our plan is to move to Washington later this year. We’ve got a lot of things that need to be done before we get to that point, including preparing our South Dakota home for sale. We expect it to take months for us to pull of the move. This trip is partly vacation, after several months of very intense working. It is partly family reunion and time to be with our grandchildren and it is partly a scouting trip to think about where we will live for the next phase of our lives. It should be fun. I’m not feeling like my colleague who declared that he was homeless. Just the opposite. I have several homes. I have our home here in South Dakota, filled with memories. I is the place where our children graduated from high school. It is the place where my mother and Susan’s father lived at the end of their lives. It is a lovely home with great neighbors, including wild deer and turkeys. Then I have my home in Montana, where I grew up. My sister lives in the cabin and we are welcome whenever we want to go there. I own the property together with my siblings and have a stake in managing the place. And now we are going to pull our camper - a kind of mobile home - out to our son’s yard in Washington, where it will remain for several months. We’ll begin establishing a home there. I’ve got at least three good homes going - all at once.

Of course it isn’t practical to live in three states. We have to choose a place to put down roots, register to vote and settle down. But for now, we’re getting ready to head out. The trailer is hitched to the truck. The tank is full of fuel. We’re almost ready to go.

I also know that we’ll be back before long. After all, I have an appointment on July 9 to renew my South Dakota Driver’s License. It’ll have the same home address that has been on my driver’s license for the past 25 years.

Copyright (c) 2020 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!