We're in our eighth week of nomadic living, my four kids and I. Our last sleep in our Virginia farmhouse was June 30, and since then we've house-sat for two families in our Virginia town; stayed with family in Massachusetts, Maine, and Connecticut; spent one-off nights here and there with friends At Large. A week into the stint my husband headed to Greece to begin his work and start seeking housing for us, so we've been apart for six plus weeks. Since it's hotel living in a thickly-touristed setting in 100+ degree heat, we opted for us to join him when things were a bit settled, and closer to the beginning of the kids' school year.
We're incredibly lucky to have a wide, deep support network to allows us to transition in this way... To have friends open their homes to us, grandparents happy for us to stay with them, vacation homes we can use in the summer. Even still, seven weeks in, everyone's unraveling in pretty much the ways I anticipated. Cranky, entitled, too much media, disrespect issues creeping quietly upward. This is what comes with lack of Dad, routine, structure, stability... lack of home. It wears on the kids. And, being honest, it sure wears on me.
This week we encountered dental challenges for our most dentally-challenged kid... (Last spring, a month before we learned she was gluten-intolerant, her 5 year x-rays revealed that she was basically in dental crisis. She had 10 cavities, two ultimately root canals, and the dentist said, "I don't know what's causing this, but something must be. This is not normal." Tears from her, more tears from me; four remedial sessions for her in the chair. A relief to at least learn that, with a gluten-free diet, this madness has hope of ending.) Ten days after leaving Virginia she started having tooth pain which resulted, Wednesday, in a mini root canal by our Connecticut family's dentist... which sadly didn't solve the problem. She'll probably need an extraction this week, poor kid. Also next week I'm undergoing a surgical procedure; I might not even be the one taking my daughter to get her tooth pulled because of my surgery! That doesn't feel great. And given my recovery from surgery, what was to have been 7 weeks apart from my husband has now become at least 9; it's unclear whether the kids will make it to their first day of school. Feels a mess, I tell you, a hot, hot mess.
We all have seasons like this in life, right? It's guaranteed to happen, some time or another. This summer I'm a single-parent nomad addressing unexpected challenges and it's taxing, but it's also short-term... and I have resources. Quite a lot of resources, actually. Houses to stay in; take-out food to grab; a van to act as our little home-away-from-home. A mom to take me to surgery and a mother-in-law to simultaneously take my kid to the dentist if it comes to that. From this standpoint, my nomadic scenario's a dream.
Because fact is that there are so, so many people out there who have no such advantages. Case in point: the country we're moving to. More than 160,000 refugees have migrated to Greece so far in 2016. These people "take their chances in unseaworthy boats and dinghies in a desperate bid to reach Europe. The vast majority of those attempting this dangerous crossing are in need of international protection, fleeing war, violence, and persecution in their country of origin." (U. N. Refugee Agency.) Nearly 60% of the migrants are women and children. And we talking about approximately 258 people per day - into Greece alone.
Now that is a tough life. These are people are traveling with no trusty van, no safe passage, no medical help, no dentists to tend to their kids' toothaches. No guarantees, and darn few resources - if any. They're mostly hoping to make it alive, and to figure out someway to make a tenable life for themselves.
We've watched a lot of Olympics this month, and someone I know, an American living in Turkey, posted a piece that featured apparent American bad attitude toward other countries. "Americans, our privilege is showing," she warned. It stuck with me, that line. Because it's easy for our privilege to show, isn't it? I mean after all, we're used to our privilege. So used to it, we barely see it. We're used to considering our lives alongside the scenarios of our neighbors, who most often are similarly privileged.
But Jesus wasn't privileged - didn't enter into a privileged family. In fact it was the opposite - he was born to a nomadic family without resources. He ministered most among the under-privileged, called special attention to the under-privileged. He called them blessed, said the kingdom of heaven was theirs. And called all of us to pay them special heed too, to help them as if they were him.
So what does this mean for me, wading into the third month of transitional living? I'm not sure. For starters I guess it means: have perspective. Be grateful. Realize the privilege that's ours and don't take it for granted. And beyond that it means: keep seeing the people who need the help, those who don't have the resources like we do. Think about them; pray for them. And press in to find ways to help.