A year ago tonight, I was sitting in a charismatic worship service, reflecting on the imminent arrival of my 29th birthday, and talking with Jesus about what the year ahead would hold. Somewhere in the midst of that service I thought about how some numbers in scripture have significance and began to wonder if 29 was one of those numbers. A quick google search on my phone led me to a document talking about the scriptural significance of numbers one through forty.
*Disclaimer: It wasn’t a scholarly document. I don’t usually do theology based on random google searches. I had no idea the way this particular search would impact my life.*
According to this document, 29 has a meaning of departure in scripture. I sort of laughed when I read that, and moved on with my evening, sinking into the worship that was flowing around me.
Except that word departure wouldn’t go away as I spent time over the next few days praying about and planning for the year ahead. It carried with it the niggling whisper that I’ve come to associate with God’s voice in my life. It had that prophetic ring of truth that I’ve come to recognize as one I need to pay attention to.
I looked back at that document tonight – pulling it up from the bowels of my laptop memory where it has resided since the day I stashed it there a year ago. I smiled as I read this sentence “Twenty-nine is the number of departure. This being the last number of the series of twenties, it depicts a change from the covering of one’s house into something new. ” If I had known a year ago how true that would be in my life, I’d have gone running in the opposite direction!
It turns out that a year of departure was exactly what Jesus had in mind for my 29th year of life.
Less than two weeks later I was sitting surrounded by friends from across North America, in the first mass I’d attended in years. The mass that ultimately opened some doors in my heart for this journey that I’ve been on ever since. The journey that I’ve chronicled in this space.
A year of departure – the house church I’d been leading came to a graceful (if slightly abrupt!) close. I transitioned in a number of other areas of life. Parts of my spiritual life that had lain dormant opened in new ways. I began the process of weaning off the anti-anxiety/antidepressant medication I’ve been on to support me for the last couple years. I recognized healing in spaces that I never believed would be able to be mended. I saw friendships change and grow in really unexpected ways. And I began exploring Catholicism. (Not to mention all the time I quite literally spent departing on airplanes – departing home for visits with friends in Florida, departing Florida to return home and continue to process.)
Look again at that line from the document that started this all, “a change from the covering of one’s house to something new.” Could there be a more apt description for this year of journeying from what is quite literally “the faith of my family” (being a pastor’s kid and all) towards the Catholic church? From the covering that I’ve always known into something entirely new. Yep. Sounds about right.
This has been my departure year, and tonight, as I once again contemplate the imminent arrival of my birthday, and wonder what this next year will hold, I can’t help but be thankful for that whispering voice of Jesus that spoke of departure.