“Shepherd your people with your staff, the flock of your inheritance, that dwells apart in a woodland.” (Micah 7:14)
Our family “dwells apart in a woodland”; in a farmland, actually. Our dwelling here reflects an inner dwelling apart, an orientation toward things not commonly held as valuable. It began years ago when we became friends with the monks at New Melleray Abbey. They dwell in a place apart in the countryside of Iowa. This awakened in us a yearning to live away from the noise of cities. After a decade of work and education and planning in Chicago, we made it out. Now we live in the country and our dwelling apart reflects the inner disposition that preceded it. We could live anywhere and dwell apart, according to our beliefs and values, but it would be harder away from natural beauty. We rest and pray easier in a landscape not made with hands. Through this way of life, we dwell paradoxically closer to the heart of the world and love people more deeply for who they actually are.
Micah’s prayer has become my prayer: Lord, guide us and accompany us in the heart of our most human needs. Draw us away from the commonly held illusions that would harm us. Claim us as your own and show us the way home. Let us meet you and walk with you in a place apart.