This (Charmed) Life

“Do you love this life?” my student Anny asked me as we stood in her classroom this morning, chatting during the ten minute break.  Her question surprised me, partly because it’s something I’ve been contemplating anyway.

“Yes,” I told her.  “Yes, definitely.”

There are, to be sure, hard parts about my life and about living here, as there are about any life anywhere.  There are language barriers, culture differences, distracted or apathetic students, logistics to juggle.  There’s the lonely nature of grief, intensified by being hundreds if not thousands of miles away from most of my friends and communities.  

But my life is so good that it stuns me.  

Recently the phrase this charmed life has been stuck in my mind every time I think about how to describe this season of life.  I get to do a job that I love at a beautiful school with students who bring no end of laughter into my days.  There are Christmas lights hanging in my living room and over my bed.  I’ve had challah with cinnamon, cranberries, and walnuts in it for breakfast every morning this week.  As I walk back from classes, I’m surrounded by Chinese colleagues and other foreign teachers; languages shift between English and Chinese, Arabic, Portuguese, French — really, what more could I dream of?  In a month I should be in Thailand, getting ready for the class component of the next round of work for my MA.  Technology works, generally, and I’m able to discuss Christmas presents with family, to send emoji back and forth with Merry.  There’s iced coffee in my fridge.  I bought a cute (and absurd) and warm hat which amuses both me and my students.  

I’m loved by my Creator.

Sometimes, when I’m feeling frustrated or bored with a situation in my life, I play a game with myself wherein I imagine what I’ll miss in a few years.  The list right now is too long to even come close to completing, and the thought makes me smile.

The song Ditmas by Mumford & Sons has been running through my mind for months now: This life I tried so hard to give to you.  Pentatonix’s song Run to You has also been stuck in my head:  I will break down the gates of heaven.  The violence of the image reminds me of the words in Matthew 11:12, “….the kingdom of heaven has been coming violently, and the violent take it by force.”  They’re perplexing words, but in the context of what’s going on in surrounding chapters, it’s fascinating to see how the kingdom comes in messy, loud ways.  The world may misinterpret, but it can’t miss the coming.  It’s seen and felt, shaking everything like a powerful earthquake, breaking down all walls.  

Or, in the words of the Newsboys,

This here comes breaking in
Like brick to glass, like grace to sin
Gonna kick down walls like West Berlin
Shout an Amen, hug it out, then

And this here's gonna light a fire
Gonna pink slip preaching to the choir
Gonna send us hobbits outta the shire
Here's the theme song, get your ring on…

I love that it is not, in fact, on me to give life to my students.  Recently I watched The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and was struck all over again by the beauty of Aslan breathing life into stone.  Nor is it my duty to break down the gates of heaven; heaven has broken into our world instead.

I love being here, a part of the greatest, most epic story ever told.  

[For further reading, see The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard. ;-)]


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