I rarely listen to music on the radio, but the other day I was flipping through the stations as I was driving and heard the opening riffs of the Barenaked Ladies’ song “The Old Apartment.” This song was a favorite of mine around about the time I graduated from college, so I turned it way up and reveled in the nostalgia. But in the midst of my revelry, the words caught my ear, and I realized that there was something profound here that I had never heard before: the song brings to the surface the deep grief we bear as a result of our hypermobility.
The homes and environments in which we live give form (and thus meaning) to our lives — the color of the walls, the hole I punched in the door, the grumpy neighbor downstairs banging on the ceiling. I certainly have had the experience that they describe here, going back to a place where I used to live and feeling a similar sense of loss and confusion.
Psychology is largely a mystery to me, but it does seem, as the Barenaked Ladies, have named here, that every time we uproot ourselves from one place to another, we inflict a sort of wound upon ourselves (or if we are being displaced by economics or political conflict, we have the wounds inflicted upon us). I share Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove‘s hope (his book The Wisdom of Stability is a must-read!) that church communities rooted in stability in a particular place can offer the hope of a different way (and even perhaps of healing) to a world deeply wounded by our hypermobility. Having lived at twelve addresses over the course of decade through college and afterward, I know these wounds all too well.
In order for us to move in the direction of a more rooted culture (in our churches and in our neighborhoods as well) we need to have a keen sense of what we are repenting of, the damage we are inflicting upon ourselves through our hypermobility, and quite to my surprise, I found that these wounds are laid bare in the story told in “The Old Apartment.”