Merriam-Webster’s defines a “sojourn” as a “temporary stay.”
For the next five weeks, I am a sojourner – a temporary visitor – at the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona, MN. Working here is a joy in many ways: incredibly talented, passionate, and friendly colleagues coming together to bring to life some of the greatest plays in the English language. This summer marks my fourth season in Winona, where I have friends and even a church family at First Baptist, who warmly welcomes this sojourner for a few weeks every May and June.
But I know this is not home. Despite the warmth of this community, and despite the inspiring professional opportunity to work with these GRSF artists, I feel out of place.
In THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA, one of the plays we’re working on this season, Valentine and Proteus sojourn to Milan, where their deep friendship endures a nearly catastrophic crucible of betrayal and deceit, but which ultimately survives.
In KING LEAR, Lear unwisely sets himself up to be a sojourner in his own land, losing virtually everything before finally learning that unconditional love is the one truly important thing in life.
God sometimes leads us to be sojourners. The Old Testament is full of famous ones: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all of the sons of Israel. They were called to reside temporarily in a place that was not home, because it was part of God’s larger plan. There were lessons to be learned and situations to be resolved.
In the New Testament, Peter addresses the “strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.” (1 Peter 1:1) These are the sojourners who comprised the early Christian diaspora. He reminds them that “he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy.” (1 Peter 1:15).
During my sojourn here in Winona – even though I long for home, for Jeni, for my sons, for the community which is the amazing team of dedicated artists currently in rehearsal for RAGTIME – I trust in the Lord. I welcome whatever lessons are given. I seek His meaning for this journey. I hope to be found faithful.