Sunday, June 7, 2009


I know Easter eggs have nothing to do with June, but this couple was just too cute to pass up. 

I've been thinking a lot, and exercising a lot, and somehow between the two began to realize that, even if the US or possibly the world is going to be hit by a real financial crisis that sends us all back to the 3rd world, even if I never feel like I'm able to do any important or appreciated work while I'm here, and even if these two years have absolutely nothing to do with the rest of my life, well, it'll still be ok. 

I once, once and irrevocably, turned down the chance to finish training and get an education at the Air Force Academy, because I didn't want to have to play the "game" the cadre upperclassmen make of the new recruits. I didn't agree with the idea of some people stripping down all my self respect to have me earn it back from them. It was excruciating training physically, and mentally I couldn't stand all the yelling and bullying. When I left it behind, I thought, I'm free now! I'll never see those cadre again!  It was a wonderful feeling.

But in the years that followed, I find myself having to face the same or more intense difficulties than the ones I balked at then. Slowly it has become clear that, one way or another, God is shaping me like a potter shapes clay. Maybe the process would have been quicker if I'd just buckled down and finished at the AFA, or maybe it would have broken me after all, and I was only brought there to see a sort of foreshadowing of later struggles.  

The point is, again and again you come up against things you can't overcome-- either you really can't, or you only think you can't, both make the thing impossible for the time being. You can choose to step away, run, or hide from it, or you can choose to face just one more hour, one more day. In the end, you will have to deal with it. It's your cross. 

So maybe I can't take on 14 more months of leper-like existence in a town without a particle of food for the soul. 

That's one way of looking at it. 

G.K. Chesterton once wrote that you should try standing on your head and looking at the world upside-down, for it all becomes much clearer then. Standing on my head, I begin to see that none of this is about me at all. It's about the town, where a lot of good, simple people live good, simple lives. It's about the children and the words or smiles that will shape their thinking. Most of all, it's about the gift of being here, now. In this history, I will be only a transparent shadow, forgotten. 

But so have been many millions of men and women who have lived and worked on this earth. The important thing is not making sure that everyone is attending to you; it's that you attend to your work and do your darndest to love the people you encounter, unlovable as some may seem. Someday, if you're blessed, you'll find someone you can work together with for the rest of your life. And then it will end, and God is the judge. 

14 months? No, not 14 seconds by myself. But with Him, one more day, one more week... little by little, until it is finished. Glory to God. 


The sister city program should be able to proceed as planned. There was just a moment of emotion over a perceived pandemic on one side, and a perceived irrational fear on the other. Different cultures meet, and these things will happen. 


Gabriella said...

Your feelings are very clearly described :) I understand you and sympathize. A beautiful hymn came to my mind:
"So shall my walk be close with God,
Calm and serene my frame;
So purer light shall mark the road
That leads me to the Lamb ..."
God bless.
(love the Easter eggs!) ;)

Anonymous said...

You may never know in this life what is the difference that you made. But, rest assured, you have made a difference somehow. It may have been a smile at a stranger or helping someone by relating your own experiences, or even by the cross-cultural teaching of the Easter eggs. Hang in there. God never promised us Heaven on Earth. You have to work to get there.
My favorite thought when problems arise is "This, too, shall pass."
Each experience does make you stronger. Just trust and believe...

Anonymous said...

I love what you wrote. Seeing the strange and unfamiliar -- people, events, things -- with both clarity and compassion is among the hardest things God asks of us. We are by nature most comfortable with the familiar things which we know from our earlier lives, and it is normal to want that comfort. But as I think you have found, the desire for this comfort also can become a barrier to knowing and loving those of God's children who live in ways and times strange to us.

Be strong. God is with you always.