Boundless Familiarity

The Other 6
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I enjoy experiencing radically different things. I move regularly. I have friends everywhere. I am not afraid to be a stranger.

Ultimately, I have few deep roots; little is familiar.

While my life has been somewhat spontaneous and unpredictable, I find something oddly endearing about familiarity—something about it that, as I grow older and move more frequently, I desire.

I am living, for a short while, between walls that know my stories more comprehensively than any walls elsewhere. I am surrounded by art that has accompanied me during the dark nights of my soul. I sit on chairs that have held me when I cried, when I expressed joys, or when I just

My lack of rootedness has begun to make me realize my “unknownness.”

“was.” I am with people who know me so deeply that I don’t need to speak to be understood.

In this temporary place I know every wall, every drawer, every implication, every mug, every routine, every individual.

This is the kind of familiarity I desire: to be known in my deepest parts by everything and everyone around me. And to know the deepest parts of everything and everyone around me.

However, unfamiliarity is easier. Much, much easier. You don’t have to let people into your inmost being; you don’t have to know your walls and break them down or build them up; you don’t have to worry about people seeing the inside of your home and running in the other direction; you don’t have to put forth effort to know the streets of another place you’ll be only momentarily.

Much less scary. Much less vulnerability needed.

But once you’ve experienced roots, depth, familiarity, you find them life-giving gifts. We all desire to be known, to be understood, to be loved no matter what.

Yet we cringe at the thought of receiving and giving these gifts.

Over the past year my lack of rootedness has begun to make me realize my “unknownness.” I feel an ever-present, stomach-rumbling hunger for intimacy.

But roots are hard to grow; vulnerability is difficult to engage in.

In this context a psalm from a vital part of my childhood rings in my ears, to be digested in new ways:

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise. . . .
You are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue,
You, Lord, know it completely. . . .

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence? . . .
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me.

Psalm 139 speaks of a God who knows me completely, who roots me, who understands me so well I don’t need to speak to be known—yet does not run away. A God who loves me more than anyone or anything I know. Who goes deeper and yearns to know me in profound ways. Who is with me everywhere. Who never changes.

I desire roots, familiarity, and all that they entail. I desire this with people, with places, with streets and cupboards. This, I ultimately don’t have.

Yet in some strange sense I do—in a God who knows me better than these walls, this art, these people.

This is my reality: I am known. Yet it has taken me 24 years to even begin to see that the God who has been faithful and present to me, actually, truly, and intimately knows me.

I rest in that.

About the Author

Dayna Vreeken is an M.Div. student at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. She is a member of First CRC, Lethbridge, Alberta, and a graduate of Dordt College.
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