Category Archives: change

(Untitled)

Belfast how you’ve grown.

I was barely gone, on the scheme of things

But I barely know you and

Cannot put my finger on

What it is that makes me love you and yet

Feel still so far away.

Crowds are lonely even when there are

Familiar faces.

Faces drawn on bravely,

Drawn on a wall, peace walls.

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Thursday, 30 January, 2014 · 4:48 pm

5 of the reasons a “Returning Medium-Term Missionary” might seem a bit weird.

1. “Home” is no longer a clear-cut concept.  Asking ‘how does it feel to be home?’ is likely to be met with a blank look and, at best, a muttered half-truth or at worst, sobs.

2. Feelings change in direct relation to the ticking of a clock, so any question which relates to said feelings (how does it feel to be back? do you feel the cold? do you fancy a cup of tea?) probably means the answer has already changed 4 or 5 times before your voice even has a chance to inflect the question mark.

3. A big part of the brain still operates in a foreign language or some mixed-up version thereof, franglais par exemple.  Therefore common words and phrases like ‘toothbrush’ and ‘go for a walk’ are blanked out and one speaks in structures of sentences bizarre.

4. A big part of the body still carries the habits of the etiquette of the other culture.  When we need to walk past each other in the street, you will politely move over to your left as I politely move over to my right only to discover you’re still in MY way.  At which point, it becomes a game of chicken.  May the best foreigner win.

5. Everything is relative.  Every situation is open to comparison – it wasn’t like this where I was, when I was here before it was like that, I never used to see this, I always used to do that…  The possibilities for difference and discovery and naming of difference are endless as well as the ways in which those differences are important or not.  “Left-hand side of the road, Left-hand side of the road, LEFT-HAND side of the road…”

Tomorrow… a few survival tips (for all involved!) on dealing with a ‘Returning Medium-Term Missionary’ who might seem a bit weird.

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Filed under change, culture, grace, home, story

Roomie

Remember that night you were coming home late

And I stood up at the window in the door while you were putting your key in the lock?

You screamed blue murder and alarmed the neighbours

While I crossed my legs and we laughed til our bellies ached.

 

 

Remember that night I came home to an unexpected correspondance;

I fell to my knees at your door and wept?

You too wore out knees and tissues

While I grieved and doubted and raged, we sobbed til our throats were raw.

 

 

Remember I used to leave ends of old baguette on the kitchen counter

Like a little present unasked for but not entirely unexpected?

You’d smile and leave it there til I’d remember what I’d done

And we’d laugh and sit down to eat your diet soup without bread while the cat scratched at our jeans.

 

 

Remember we refused to get a television because we were oh so cultured darling,

And we put your PC in the corner out of the way, because there was nowhere else for it?

You’d casually switch it on, slip a DVD in the drive and with a sideward glance at my nod

We’d watch Friends back to back til bedtime.

 

 

Remembered vignettes of a shared life, a witnessed life, a different life;

Moving in, moving out, moving on…

Things change, memories make it worthwhile

But now I have to do all the dishes.

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Filed under change, friends, home, humour, poetry, story

The Name

It doesn’t have a name.  This thing that pulses in my gut, it has no name.

 

So how do I pursue it when I don’t know what to tell the driver?  Follow that car!  Which one? Er.. the one with the… in the… where the…

 

I shrug helplessly and sit back down on the bench in Park Frustration on Despair Street.

 

I know.

 

It has beauty… creativity and freedom and colour.

It has connection… conversation and sharing and tears of all kinds.

It has discovery… understanding and newness and joy.

 

But it doesn’t have a name.  At least not within my current vocabulary.

 

So what do I do?  There are no maps for No-where, no buses to Every-where, no GPS satellites anywhere.

 

Take root here? Go anywhere but here?

Cry out Hope and shout down Fear.

 

Pick myself up, look at the horizon and start walking.  Spend time in Beauty, cultivate Connection, pursue Discovery.  Hunt it down, seek it out. Find.

 

* * *

 

But what happens when all roads seem blocked?  When there are no doors, no windows… Just this bench called Waiting.

 

Choose still.  Wait in Hope, weight in Fear.  Does the cut wood build a boat or fix the roof in preparation for the coming rain?

 

Will it come at all?

 

The reign of hope over fear.  Known and unknown.

 

The rain.

 

Untamed.

 

The Name.

 

Face upturned, open hands.  I wait.

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Filed under beauty, change, fear, hope, questions

Preach it, sister!

Sunday afternoon I was at a church service where a woman preached and kicked butt!

It was wonderful.  I think it might be the first time I’ve been in your ordinary ‘run-of-the-mill’ context (rather than a conference I mean) and have been not only engaged and impressed by a woman’s preaching but also touched and ministered to in a very real way.  No offence if any of you women reading think I’ve heard you preach by the way – sorry!  But I’m pretty sure this is the only time it has happened in a church service.

I think I’m probably always rooting for a woman speaker to be great, and I have heard others who are good and have definite potential to be great.  But I think the difference here was that this woman seemed experienced. She seemed to truly enjoy what she was doing, rather than it being under some kind of “I-grew-up-being-told-I-could-never-do-this-but-now-I’m-being-told-I-can-so-I’m-damn-well-giving-it-a-shot-(please-don’t-shoot-me)” pressure to try.

Roll on the days when more women are experienced in this field!  Roll on the days when more women are given the freedom to enjoy these kinds of gifts!  Roll on the day when…

Oh, no, wait… Let’s not ruin this with a sarcastic, ungracious comment about Certain People.

😉

Preach it, sister!

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Filed under change, church, freedom, women

Celebrate good (or not so good) times, come on.

The Jews were a celebrating-y kind of people.  Its seems that every few weeks they’d some sort of knees up, or at least some sort of special meal to commemorate something.

There’s something appealing about this kind of ritual celebration.  They were often commemorating important events that were HARD, not just good things – but even this sense of marking the past has a significant place in the present, giving weight and depth to what has gone before, what will come around next year, placing the present firmly in the context of the greater story.

I’ve been struck recently of the need for this perspective, for the need to allow room for the greater story to alleviate the drama of the immediate story.  The deep, rhythmic breathing of the years to soothe the sprinting hearts of the days : He was faithful, He is faithful, He will be faithful.

Who was, and is, and is to come.

Immanuel.

Roll on 30th birthday, roll on.  Let’s party like its 1981.

 

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Filed under change, God, perspective, story, Uncategorized

“Behold I am doing a new thing…”

Autumn is a great time to move somewhere new.

The trees turning from green to red to golden are not only so beautiful as to make the heart ache with joy, but they also serve to remind that change is the way of the world, and it is good.

Change brings many little deaths – the fare-thee-well of the green of well-known places and faces, the see-you-soon glowing ambers of goodbye tears and warm wishes – but autumn comes so that springtime can, in time, flourish once more with fresh growth and vigour.

Winter follows Autumn.  It can be cold and dark with unfamiliarity, slippery with icy loneliness, seemingly interminable.  But Winter has its own surprises.  Comfort found in a steaming mug.  Hope alive in clear skies and starlit pinpricks. Rest in watching and waiting the approach of new birth.

“Behold I am doing something new!  Now it Springs up; do you not perceive it?” Isa 43:19

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Filed under beauty, change, France/French, hope