Welcome candlesSeptember 6, 2015
Last night we lit candles. The sky flashed as the rain disturbed the hot dust and thunder rolled from somewhere unseen. The flickering lights would protect us from electricity outages that the storms so often bring. By the time my boys had fallen to sleep one lone flicker remained, a refuge in a dark house. Across Europe thousands of candles flickered in windows, candles of hope and refuge, candles of warmth and welcome to the thousands more who would spend their nights without homes. It was a protest of welcome.
We welcome you, weary soul, frightened heart and fragile footed. We open our doors and invite you in. Your presence scares us, stretches our hospitality, disturbs our feeling of security and forces us to adapt. We welcome you when it’s easy and when it’s not. The ramparts of our home are secure, let us offer you their protection even if it’s only for a moment. Let our kitchen sustain you, our warmth dry out your damp clothes, come wash your dusty bones in our stream and have the freedom to rebuild yourselves a home.
We invite you to stand in our crowds not of desperation but celebration. Come and sit upon our sofas and talk of need and plenty, watch your children run for toys and giggle with friends. Let us shed tears with you for your loss and delight in your achievements. We welcome you from homelessness into community, this is our home, become part of the ‘our’, take ownership of it, for we offer it to you as a gift.
that we should call it homeAugust 19, 2015
It’s three weeks since we left this little corner of the globe for our holiday, if that word rightly applies. Having been ‘back’ a few days now, got my head around the change, the return, the messing up of schedules and the run-off of trinkets with new homes to be found, I’m sitting again in the familiar chair pondering what I learnt, how I moved, and how much was my soul watered and relaxed by the break.
It’s a missionaries prerogative to return home and yet not really know where that is. Mission work does that, it waters down the notion of home, condenses it into a suitcase and all the while expands it’s borders. It’s a addictive feeling, something I can only faintly liken to having a long distance relationship, the pull of the other always carried while the weight of the present feels comfortably right. It splits you, breaks you, and mends you in a way that leaves your feet itching and heart wild. And it should be addictive, it should be painful, and it should be mundanely wonderful every time your feet hit that new soil.
The addictive nature of it can tempt our independent lives to play the ‘until the next time’ game, can leave mission open-ended in the wrong sort of manner. All mission should be open ended, relationships and support should not die as the flight leaves the runway, interdependence should not be left hanging, but equally long term mission is a very different thing to missionary as a lifestyle. Long term mission is a commitment as binding as the vows given upon our wedding day. It’s a decision made by definite choice, a choice that demands to be, gladly or painfully, renewed every morning. It’s writing the end date in the sand and being open to the wind blowing it away, that security gone, there is no ‘next time’ any-more, it’s just time.
Going ‘home’ becomes a sort of bitter sweet holiday, ties are reconnected and shredded once again, promises of connection renewed to fade as days pass, stories exchanged, pleasantries uttered, occasional truths leaked.
Going ‘home’ gives glimpses of the other life we could have had, the one we turned down, dangled like carrots in our faces.
Home churches become sending churches and every second in them feels bitter sweet. As I stood in the final church service singing my heart out to ‘when I was lost’ I recognised that this was my survival food, my rations for the journey. It wouldn’t matter if the journey was off to university, out to the daily grind of work or off around the globe. This was my travel pack, my inner child’s teddy bear, it was that thing held tightly and only set down at a place designated home. This faith gave me a constant travel companion, and while my home may move His home remained in me.
UnawareJune 8, 2015
Yesterday was switch off Sunday. It was a CMS community thing, and to be honest that’s the reason I took part. Switching off is awkward for a household whose life is pretty much fed and watered by the internet, just 10 days after a 3 day internet blackout made the date mildly ironic. Yet, though our attempt was somewhat half-hearted, it did make me think and consider how much energy and stuff we waste.
For me, switching off meant I didn’t get the washing done, didn’t use my computer and tried not to use my other electronic devices. While Facebook and my Sunday quiet time ritual may have missed out other things benefited. We sat together for a lovely home cooked meal, enjoyed fresh produce from the market and store on our doorstep, and played games and puzzles which stretched our minds and left graphite dust across the table.
I had only really planned one activity and that was to finish stitching Adam’s t-shirt. Waste is a huge environmental issue and some baby clothes are so easy to re-purpose. We have loads of long sleeve baby-grows that are ending their life but only a couple of t-shirts which are so useful to put on when bouncing around the house in a fabric nappy. Cue scissors, a garbled prayer of thanks for non-fray fabric, and viola! OK, I’m not gong to win any fashion awards, especially as the cut line isn’t even that straight, but it lives another few weeks and helps save a few pennies along the way.
We throw away so much, recycling is in it’s infancy here and the garbage pile on the outskirts of town has begun to tower in the last few years. I’ve never been very passionate about environmental causes but I do believe we are called to care for, rather than destroy, our world, and frankly it’s much easier to do the latter. While recycling struggles others aspects thrive. Many people here grow their own, markets are big, produce seasonal and if it can be re-sold it probably is going to be. Serbia is the first place I’ve actually found one of those service centres where they mend your appliance under warranty, the city is full of them, real places you can go into to replace the handle or half a set of whisks. It may sometime require extra effort, but there is a beauty in knowing your trash can is a little emptier and that mountain may grow just a touch slower. Plus there is always the sobering thought – just because I’m not an eco warrior doesn’t mean Adam won’t be.