About 6 years ago I had a friend named Gypsy. She was a regular at the Starbucks I worked at and everyday around 6pm she’d walk in with a warm, nerdy, smile and order her Venti extra hot, no whip mocha then proceed to sit in the oversized chair in the far corner of the cafe with that week’s selection of fantasy novel. Her teenage son, who would join her on occasion, would comment on the smell that all of her clothes seemed to acquire after her daily 4-5 hour visit to the coffee shop. She also hosted a mahjong club and published some excellent poetry online. All in all, she was a character and one of my favorite customers, which is probably why I still remember her drink and the other details I’ve shared so far.
During my shifts, whilst preparing her mocha, we would share about our love of writing and different works we were on, or about whatever we were currently reading; however on occasion the conversations would turn to our lives. After a while I noticed that she’d stopped calling me Dan and started calling me “Nomad”. I didn’t think much of it at first because in nerd-dom we often make up strange nicknames for our friends… and really anyone around us. For instance my co-workers and I also decided one day our manager should be designated Boba Fett (that didn’t go well…).
One day I asked her why she chose the name Nomad. She explained that she took the name Gypsy because she had moved around a lot, never quite fitting in and based on my past I was like a Nomad; moving a lot, not fully belonging.
Gypsy and I were friends, but not the closest of friends. I had no indication that she was a believer, but I do hope that she’s come to know the Lord; but the name she gave me at a time when I really didn’t know where I was going or what I was doing was quite prophetic. At that point in my life I was attending the University of South Florida studying Political Science and International Studies. The problem was that I had a specific call from the Lord. I was essentially playing Jonah for a little while (running from my calling).
I don’t use the name Nomad, but I do remember it. In fact I commemorate it in the domain of my fiction blog (rebornnomad.wordpress.com). It reminds me of where I’ve come from as a boy who moved around a lot with his family and even while static in the same cities for years on end, never quite fit in. It reminds me of where I am now, a man who has finally gained some sense of belonging but is anxious and uneasy at times about becoming too attached to anyone or anything because I know I am called elsewhere. And I remember it because of where I am going.
1 Peter 2:11 refers to us as sojourners and exiles. Nomads of sorts. I know that I am here for only a brief time. I have trouble feeling content with where I am right now. My family and I are called to the mission field in Uganda and we are heading that way, but for now I am where God has me. Sometimes it is difficult for me to be okay with that (while other times it’s almost too easy… strange huh?). At the end of all of this is the glory of God. I’ve told the Lord that I am ready for this whenever, but my timing is not his timing. Until then I, like all other believers, are just nomads here on this planet. Strangers in a strange land that doesn’t function the way it’s supposed to, but like the nomads in the deserts we press on and do what we are here to do. Love God, and love others. Lord help us to do this better than ever before.