An Evangelical Pilgrimage
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Eight Days and Counting

Portland Sign

Portland, OR :: It’s hard to believe that in just eight days the slug-line for these posts won’t say “Portland, OR.” While we will spend the month of October in Salem, just 45 minutes south of Portland and no further from the Pacific Ocean; and while the bulk of the OTNR project won’t begin until November when we travel down to California (I want the project to end in Oregon, rather than start there) – I am already homesick. I pretend that when we get back next fall we will just jump right back into life, but it can’t be that way.  We’ll be strangers in our own city, at least for a while.

The more practical matter at hand is packing. I’m so busy with grants and my writing projects that Kate gave me just one responsibility – to pack my books – and a firm deadline: the end of August. Into the third week of September and my books are only half-packed. The issue is that I have been hand-entering the ISBN of every one of my estimated 1,000 books into a program called Bookpedia on my computer. “Very monk-like,” Dave says. And it’s true. I told the story in an earlier post about the monk who sold his copy of the Gospels and gave the money to the poor. Books may be my final test of salvation. I think they are an anchor for me, but they may also be dead weight. I have 200 books set aside to bring with me on this trip. Libby jokes that we will need to buy a second trailer just to carry them all.

6 comments

1 dbj { 09.17.09 at 3:12 pm }

200 books seems reasonable to me.

I also wonder about books being an anchor or dead weight. I often tell K that I’d be perfectly fine selling or giving away everything we have. Except the books. I’m worried getting rid of them would be a decision I’d regret. Unlike Chris from Northern Exposure, I want to be a buyer, not a renter (or, to use Stegner’s terminology, a sticker rather than a boomer), and I want books to be part of that – something to pass down to the next generation. But maybe books will be my final test of salvation as well.

2 sarah asay { 09.17.09 at 4:20 pm }

for what it’s worth, i think books are one of the few things we should keep…. what other medium involves you to take you to another country, time, idea, world? tv and movies can be a great tool, but you are an observer in a way it is almost impossible to be with books.

3 Tara Dawn { 09.17.09 at 5:55 pm }

I think that you two are amazing. I can’t imagine jus packing up everything and hitting the road w/ the kids…… I hope that this next year is everything you guys could possible want and more!

4 Cara Pattison { 09.19.09 at 11:30 pm }

Don’t we often end up right where we began (albeit, with new perspective on the terrain)? The story starting and ending in Oregon makes a lot of sense.

5 Ramón { 09.26.09 at 8:01 am }

Remember the spiral. It represents journey, and how we often pass the same places from a different point of view.

I’ve thought a lot about returning to Portland as a stranger. I’m wondering if that’s as bad a thing as it seems. Annie Dillard writes about seeing the world anew with untrained eyes, like patients who have just undergone surgery to remove cataracts that kept them blind from birth.

How wonderful it will be to return to Portland and see it anew, like the first time, but with more country behind us than ever before.

6 John { 09.28.09 at 10:29 am }

Tara,

Thanks for the encouragement. Are you still in Nebraska? We’ll look you when we’re in your area.

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