Tracing Thoughts

July 25, 2013
Beijing

Tomorrow I leave China.  Again.

I keep thinking of the blog post title from the Blazing Center -- Going, Not Knowing...  

And how all of life is a going without knowing, but leaving China particularly feels that way.  Because something in my heart whispers Maybe Simon is right, maybe you'll never come back.  I don't know if it's truth of things to come or just a fear...

March 10, 2014
bus to Chicago

...mostly I cried because it hurts to not have a home.  There are plenty of places that I'm welcome.  Plenty of people who gladly open their homes and lives and hearts to me.  But my family and my church are in two different places and I'm in still another -- and I feel splintered, fragmented...

I'm wishing for something that cannot be, for the clock to turn back.

December 2, 2014
Btown

I am so very bad at staying.  18 years in my hometown and then it's like I was suddenly cut loos to be carried by the wind...

The thought is haunting me right now.  #China2016?

December 4, 2014
Btown

So many reasons on my heart about China.

December 10, 2014
Btown

There really are so many reasons why I want to go back.  I miss teaching.  I miss my students.  I miss the community of ELIC.  I miss China.

There are so many reasons why I don't want to go.  Family and friends, the thought of more goodbyes and distance.  The things I've already grown to love in Btown; mostly people...

I still miss Geneva so much, the friends there, the sidewalks and trees and professors and classes.  I've been profoundly blessed... how do I hold all this with an open hand and not grow hardened in the letting go?

December 16, 2014
Btown

--if home seems suddenly sacred and seductive--

But where is home for me?  ... All of [these places] are places where I've encountered You and gotten to know Your people.  All of them, each in their turn, seduces me with memories and impressions... It kind of breaks my heart to think of how many places have been home to me these past seven years...

Truth be known, I've been blessed and grown in all of them.  I can't yet say that there is nothing I'd change -- but there is little that I'd alter.  Littler still when I think of my own fallibility...

January 3, 2015
Btown

...And yet... to be honest -- the thought of staying scares me, brings me near to tears.  Both with fear and because it seems like too much.  This must be a gift meant for someone else, surely.  To come to a point where really being so healed could be a real thing -- I did not think this would happen.  That maybe the brokenness within my family, the pain of loving China and leaving, loving Geneva and graduating, loving and moving away from so many good places and people -- from quizzing, from OPC youth camp, from Faith, from Seneca, from western PA -- that that could maybe fade, leaving a dull ache and a heart full of bitter memories?

I don't think that I even know how to hope for such a thing

I've been so afraid that my wyrd was to be Frodo, cut with this wound that could never heal enough to allow him to live in this world -- 

and yeah, there's a hubris in that.  A sort of sick self pitying, as if others don't also live with deeply cut wounds in their heart...

--that I couldn't imagine coming to a place of being Sam.

But isn't Frodo a bit platonistic, and Sam more redeemed in the end?  Sam is able to love his ground, to tend the earth.  And we are indeed a part of Your creation, rooted in a certain place and time.  As we ought to be...

"I shan't call it the end, till we've cleaned up the mess," said Sam gloomily.  "And that'll take a lot of time and work."

Sam, not Frodo, is the one who lives in the tension.  Touched by the other world, the memories real and really a part of him...

But the story ends not with him sailing away.

But to Sam the evening deepened to darkness as he stood at the Haven; and as he looked at the grey sea he saw only a shadow on the waters that was soon last in the West.  There still he stood far into the night, hearing only the sigh and murmur of the waves on the shores of Middle-earth, and the sound of them sank deep into his heart.  Beside him stood Merry and Pippin, and they were silent.
At last the three companions turned away, and never again looking back they rode slowly homewards; and they spoke no word to one another until they came back to the Shire, but each had great comfort in his friends on the long grey road.
At last they rode over the downs and took the East Road, and then Merry and Pippin rode on to Buckland; and already they were singing again as they went.  But Sam turned to Bywater, and so came back up the Hill, as day was ending once more.  And he went on, and there was yellow light, and fire within; and the evening meal was ready, and he was expected.  And Rose drew him in, and set him in his chair, and put little Elanor upon his lap.
He drew a deep breath.  "Well, I'm back," he said. 

And Mumford and Sons' song Sister hits me as if it was written to me.  It stings sharply.  So I sit here crying.  Because I have loved deeply in so many places, and to say: No, really... this, here, is where I'm supposed to be; not in China now.  And I truly don't know when or even if -- that HURTS.

There's a chip on your shoulder, girl
And by God it'll make you fall
If you let it take a part of your soul
I've seen the love in your brother's eyes
And the love in your mother's cries
Sister, don't test the ones you love
Sister, don't let go
Sister, don't let go of us
Cause your roots will rot away
And your fruit, it won't grow
Your bark will wear thin, body hollow...
Don't test the ones you love
It'll only tear us down
If you want to feel alive
Then learn to love your ground
Well, love your ground.

...

It was last night -- I can just about lay a finger on the pulse of that time, certain as when I knew that the swine flu virus had struck me between floors of McKee, as when I knew in Guizhou all of a sudden that I loved my group and China was exactly where I was meant to be at that moment -- when I knew that Bloomington is exactly where I should be now, and that I don't even want to imagine my life having played out differently than it has.  The people I know now, the job I'm doing -- watching Unbroken, playing euchre with Maggie and Natalie and Jason -- it is right and it adds a fullness and a richness.

Those words -- I'm supposed to be here, now -- shock me with how difficult they are to write.  How they bring me to tears.  

You are so good, and I can't pretend to know Your plan or to guess at what path You are leading me on, but I am fully confident that You are good and so it, also, will ultimately be good.

~~~~

And the words that have been echoing in my heart and mind throughout the past month are from a pop song, crazily enough, from Home by Phillip Phillips.

I'm content with that.  Not every minute of every day, but much more at peace with being here, feeling like it is home, than I have felt in a long, long time.

Settle down, it'll all be clear
Don't pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble -- it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found
Just know you're not alone
'Cause I'm gonna make this place your home.

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